A New Season of Canning

The icicles are dripping, the birds are chirping, and Daylight Savings Time has begun.  Is it safe to say that spring is on the way?  When the crocus buds peek out of the snow-laden flower bed, another thought begins to poke its way into my mind – gardening!  I know some of you have already begun your seeds indoors. One of these years I hope to accomplish that. For now, I am content to drool over the gardening catalogs that seem to arrive in my mailbox daily.

Something else arrived yesterday – on my doorstep. It looks like something an alien might have dropped off. And be careful picking it up, because you could sprain a back muscle! But I am so excited to take on this new challenge for my gardening/preserving season this year.

Men have their tools, women have their gadgets…and mine is currently in the form of an All-American Pressure Canner. During the long harsh months of January and February here in Ohio I have been researching information about pressure canning.  My freezer is filled to capacity, for which I am grateful. However, some items in my freezer could be safely canned.  In theory, I believe canning more foods to make them shelf-stable will allow me to stock my freezer with more items from my garden and from seasonal sales that can only be frozen.  In this way I believe I can continue to save money and provide a healthy diet for my family.

So, here it is! Pretty impressive, I might say. Honestly, I am scared to use it for the first time. But hpressure canneraving read multiple reviews on this product and its safety, as well as a myriad of online posts and comments on proper handling of this equipment, I am ready to tackle this new challenge. I hope to try my first hand at it by canning some spring peas. We will see how it goes.

The online reviews I read on this product were incredible. One man spoke of using his grandmother’s All-American Pressure Canner which is now 100 years old.  He needed to replace the weight or the dial (I can’t remember which) and had it checked for safety – it still works fine. Others commented on how this canner is so well made they will be able to pass it down to the next generation. So as my son was lifting this giant out of the box for me yesterday, I told him to be careful with it because this might be his inheritance. He didn’t seem too impressed – I wonder why?

So here’s to a new season and a new gadget and new fun! If any of you are experienced pressure canning people, I would love to know your favorite recipes. I am going to start simple, but I intend to expand my horizons in the future. Thanks in advance for your input!

PS:  I have been watching this product online for a few weeks. On Wednesday a week ago (after midnight) I happened to check, and this product was marked down to $161!  The next morning I decided to order it. Much to my surprise, the price was back to $209. Later that week it went as high as $237. Determined not to pay that much, I continued to watch the price. Last Thursday (after midnight) I checked again – the price was $161, with no tax and free shipping. I ordered it immediately, saving myself $66 from the top price. I have never observed this price change happening before and do not know if it will happen again, but if you are interested in this product, it may be worth it to check the prices for a week to see what you can get.  The link included in the blog article takes you to the item I purchased.


A Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, but today feels a little bit like Christmas!  This afternoon I picked up my Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving package, which I had pre-ordered earlier this fall.  I generally knew what was in the package, but opening each box opened up new excitement and cooking opportunities.  An entire feast now sits in my kitchen and I never stepped foot in a grocery store.  My money has gone directly to a farmer or baker in the local area, and my family will enjoy healthy farm-fresh food on our dinner table for Thanksgiving and a few meals after.

Just to give you a glimpse of what I received in today’s package, I am including a picture of each box, with a few comments of explanation.

??????????????????????????????? Box 1 contains 2 stalks brussel sprouts, several winter squash, a bag of fresh broccoli and fresh spinach, 2 bags of freshly ground whole wheat flour, a 1/2 gallon apple cider and a freshly baked crumb top apple pie.

I have a great recipe for brussel sprouts I will share on the blog soon.  The fresh spinach may end up in an Italian wedding soup recipe we love.  Some steamed broccoli and winter squash will make a great side dish with dinner.


???????????????????????????????Box 2 contains a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread and 1 dozen homemade whole wheat rolls.  A bag of beets and a crumb top sweet potato pie join them.



???????????????????????????????Box 3 is the heavy one!  It contains 2 lbs carrots, 1 Hubbard squash, 2 butternut squash, a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, a bag of onions, a bag of sweet potatoes, several fresh apples, shallots, garlic,fresh lettuce greens, and a dozen organic eggs.



???????????????????????????????Box 4 feels like the grand prize!  A 21 lb fresh turkey fills this box.  This turkey was roaming the farm fields until this past Monday, eating healthy greens and enjoying life.  Never frozen and minimally processed, this turkey will soon grace our table as a delicious centerpiece, with lots of leftovers to follow!



??????????????????????????????? I added a few items to this order that I needed for other meals.  2 lbs of fresh cut, nitrate-free bacon will be used for breakfast and for that brussel sprouts recipe I mentioned earlier.  The sunflower oil has become my new go-to cooking oil, replacing my olive oil and canola oil.  The heirloom tomato sauce will be served over linguine for a quick meal later this weekend.  And the fresh apple cider is so delicious I just had to get another 1/2 gallon!



I am grateful to those who have grown and prepared the food we will soon enjoy.  Their hard work and excellence allow my family to eat healthy and contribute to the local economy.  I am grateful for the abundance we enjoy, while also realizing there are many that go without such bountiful supply.  This is a reminder of how important it is to get involved with organizations that do help provide resources to families in need.  Our own church has a Family Resource Center which provides food and household items to those in need – we enjoy getting involved with this agency.  I am thankful for the fact that my table will be filled with family and friends over the next few days and I am reminded of those who are alone or who are experiencing distress or grief this year.  My heart goes out to you, especially at this time.  As my family gathers around our Thanksgiving table, we will pause and thank God for His goodness in our lives and remember to pray for others.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

The Flavors of Winter

???????????????????????????????We experienced our first snowfall of the season today here in Northeast Ohio.  Somehow the first fresh snow flurrying through the slate blue clouded sky always seems magical.  The roads were a bit treacherous and the plummeting air temps (from 65 degrees on Tuesday to 25 degrees today) made us catch our breath. Dreams of steaming soup and hot cocoa come to the forefront of our minds.  And Fresh Fork Market delivers the best when it comes to the flavors of winter.

This is my second pick-up in the winter program of Fresh Fork Market.  The program works a little differently than the summer program in that it is a once-every-other-week pick up rather than weekly, with the exception of these three weeks prior to Thanksgiving.  My bag is larger than the summer one and the fresh produce keeps coming, supplemented by frozen produce, meats and freshly harvested beans.

This week’s bag has ham-n-bean soup written all over it (not literally, of course!)  Freshly picked carrots, beans, and frozen ham hocks provide the basics to get me started.  Tomorrow I will use my crock pot to cook the ham hocks and beans, then add some veggies and let it simmer slowly all day.  I will have enough soup for dinner and some extra for the freezer, ready for another snowy day in need of a steaming bowl of homemade soup.

spaghetti squashIn addition to the soup ingredients, my bag held a spaghetti squash large enough to feed my family.  If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash yet, you are missing out on a treat.  Sliced in half and baked cut-side down in a shallow pan with a little bit of water causes this steamed squash to separate into small noodle-like strands perfect with a marinara sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. What a great option for lowering our carbohydrate intake without a loss of flavor!   Fresh greens in my bag will become a delicious side salad for this nutritious meal.

So don’t let the freezing temperatures outside put a freeze on healthy cooking for this season. Fresh Fork Market is a great way to stay healthy and enjoy fresh foods even while the snow flies!

Soup Season is Here! Homemade Vegetable Stock

???????????????????????????????There’s something about a bag of home-grown produce that makes me want to slow down and savor it all. Nothing comes pre-cut, pre-packaged or with cooking instructions tagged on it. Each veggie exudes a personality, a flavor all its own, and my job is to discover, or uncover, the best it has to offer. This takes time. The past few weeks, extra time is something I have had very little of due to a particularly busy schedule. I have missed my kitchen sessions where chopping, steaming, roasting and enjoying  new tastes has energized my body and soul. My Fresh Fork Market bag this week gives me a glimmer of hope as I foresee some free hours to be creative once again.

Before this last stretch of busyness,  on an unusually cool August day, I had time to prepare a recipe I have kept for years but never tried. The recipe is not a main course or side dish; rather, it is a pantry staple. This Rich Vegetable Stock is a full-bodied broth made without salt or other additives-just pure veggies. Stored in the freezer, this stock becomes an ideal base for homemade soups or cooked grains. You can even use it to steam vegetables for added flavor. Most of these ingredients came from my FFM bag. In fact, I plan to make more this week as I brought home a majority of these items in my bag again this week, with some to spare. I found the recipe in a book I read on vacation several years back, but unfortunately did not write the book title down. If anyone knows the source of this recipe, please let me know.  Here it is for you to try:

???????????????????????????????Rich Vegetable Stock

  • 1 medium leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 3 cups (4-5 leaves) torn romaine lettuce  **I used kale instead
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3/4 cup stemmed green beans, halved
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 1/2 cup quartered mushrooms **I did not add these per my family’s tastes
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
  • 15 stems parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes, with 1 cup of the liquid
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme **I used dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. whole peppercorns

In a large stock pot, place leek, onion, lettuce, cabbage, carrot, zucchini, green beans, celery, mushrooms if desired, celery leaves, and parsley. Add 12 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Then add tomatoes and juice, bay leaves, thyme (basil) and peppercorns. Simmer for 30 minutes. Let stock cool with vegetables and seasonings. Strain and refrigerate for immediate use or freeze for later.

Confession: I did not read the directions correctly and added all the ingredients at once, then simmered them for an hour. The stock came out fine.  Also, instead of straining the cooled broth, I ran the broth through my Roma food mill– which I absolutely love! -in order to get as much nutrition out of the cooked veggies as possible.


(Side note:  If you are looking for a Roma food mill and live in Ohio, you need to check out Lehman’s Hardware, in Ohio’s Amish Country. They sell this food mill at a very reasonable price and keep all the parts in stock if you need to replace anything.)

After putting it through the food mill, very little waste remained – in fact, all the leftover veggie scraps fit in a 4- cup glass container.


The gorgeous golden stock nearly filled four 1-quart containers.  With very little work and minimal waste, I have a healthy vegetable stock ready for soup season to begin!  This recipe offers some flexibility in veggies and seasonings.  If you make it, leave me a comment and let me know what you tried.  I would love to hear from you!



The Episode of the Exploding Egg

My 13-year old daughter began 8th grade at our local Middle School this morning.  As a stay-at-home mom, the first day of school each year brings a set of contrasting emotions. I love summer and the freedom from a rigid schedule.  On the other hand,  I am always ready for the comfort of routine that returns each fall with the start of school.  I also find contentment each morning, helping my family prepare for their day.  As the car pulled out of the driveway at 7:35 a.m., I headed into the kitchen for a bite of breakfast to eat while watching the 7-minute local news update that comes on a little before 8 a.m., the extent of my TV watching for the morning.

I am not a morning person, so the idea of actually cooking anything before 9 a.m. is too much for my mind to handle.  However, I recalled seeing an “egg in a mug” recipe on Pinterest, the motherboard of  ideas. A quick Pinterest search revealed several microwave-your-egg-in-a-mug recipes. I decided to try a poached egg recipe which the pinner described as “works like a charm”.   Hey, no oil and no frying pan sounds good to me!  One minute later I had that egg in a water-filled mug in the microwave, cooking for 75 seconds, exactly as described on Pinterest. I even had time to make a piece of toast while the egg was poaching.

???????????????????????????????As I headed to the fridge for some grapes to top off this impressively fast and healthy breakfast, I heard a loud and disconcerting explosion sound come from the microwave.  My first glance revealed water running out the microwave door unto the counter below.  That couldn’t be good. Grabbing a paper towel to stop the flow of the water, I opened the microwave with my other hand.  My egg was still there – everywhere.  Half-cooked egg  was dripping down every wall of the microwave.  The yolk sat in a puddle of milky water on my microwave tray.  And the mug?  It was nearly empty, save for a meager dripping of water left on the bottom.

As I proceeded to clean up the mess, my toast grew cold and I missed my 7 minutes of morning news.  I considered giving up and having a bowl of cereal and milk, my least favorite morning meal. What ever happened to the “works like a charm” or “doesn’t get easier than this” phrases that had described this recipe?  What about that perfect Pinterest picture of what it was supposed to look like?

Not to be deterred by the pile of soppy egg-yolk-covered paper towels on my counter, I decided to try again. I grabbed Egg #2, put a little less water in the mug, covered it with plastic wrap for protection against another disaster, and microwaved the mug in smaller time increments. Guess what – it worked!  Adding a touch of ground pepper, a slice of buttered toast and a few grapes gave me the perfect breakfast for the start of this new day and new year.

???????????????????????????????My exploding egg episode reminds me of another lesson I need to continually remember. Life does not often look like the picture we have in our minds.  The day-to-day unfolding of  our lives does not usually fit the description of “perfect” or “charming” we had imagined. And sometimes, life is just a mess.  So what do we do?  We pull ourselves together, we clean up what we can, we ask God for help, and we try again.  And again. We learn from our mistakes and we start each new day with hope.  So if today you find yourself with an unplanned problem on your hands, don’t give up.  Try again. And again.  You will be glad you did.



The Real Dirt about Real Food

???????????????????????????????I  came into the house tonight after spending a beautiful Ohio summer evening in my garden. I am a novice gardener to say the least.  In this my third year of  suburban backyard gardening, I have added potatoes, onions and cucumbers into the mix. Today I harvested most of my potatoes and onions, along with a second round of rhubarb.  I also planted carrots for a fall crop that I hope to successfully store through the winter months.  And I just finished blanching and freezing a pound of green beans picked this evening as well.

???????????????????????????????My garden time is also my think time. Playing in the dirt, feeling the warm sun and cool breeze as I weed, watching a small toad wiggle away from my green bean patch – these are relaxing to me in a way most other things are not.  As I worked in my garden, I realized how much I am being re-educated by both my garden experiences and  my Fresh Fork Market journey.  My perspective on food, where it comes from and what I should do with it, is changing – and for the better, I believe.

Most of us approach shopping for food like we shop for a new car.  We expect a new car to come exactly like it looks on the TV commercial or on the car lot – in the color we like, with the power we desire, and sporting all the specific bells and whistles we have in mind. We want guarantees on the performance of the car, the maintenance of the car, the gas mileage of the car.  And when the car dealer hands over the keys to this car, it most likely will look and perform exactly like all the other cars of this make and model.  Not much risk involved in the transaction.

We often go to the grocery store with the same mentality.  We want our food to look exactly like it looks on TV or in the newspaper ad – in the color we like, with the flavor we like, and sporting all the excitement of a gourmet restaurant.  We want guarantees on the flavor of the food, the performance of the food, the longevity of the food.  We want pretty food in safe plastic-wrapped packaging so our hands don’t get dirty. We want shiny food, glossy produce, shelf-stable breakfasts and long-lasting canned soups.  We don’t want  risk.

???????????????????????????????We have lost sight of what real food looks like and tastes like.  We have forgotten what it takes to make the food we feed our families every day. Real food often comes with dirt on it. Or a few tiny blotches from sitting on the ground for a bit. Or some funny wrinkles from a few days in the hot sun. Sometimes real food isn’t ready right when we want it because of weather issues. Real food isn’t usually shiny and it certainly does not come plastic-wrapped so we don’t get our hands dirty. Real food comes with risk. But real food comes with so much more.

???????????????????????????????Real food brings us back to the freshest of flavors and the boldest of colors. Real food, fresh food, contains the most valuable nutrients in their most productive state. Real food leaves behind the plastic and cans and brings instead  fresh peels and living seeds for the compost pile or next year’s garden.  Real food begs to be eaten soon and rewards us with the best taste.  Real food teaches us a little bit more about what it takes to produce the healthy, natural food we want to feed our families.

I am growing to love brushing the dirt off potatoes and onions from my garden.  Right now my cucumbers are looking a bit prickly and crooked, but I still can’t wait to slice one up in a salad sometime soon.  Real food, real flavor, and real fun!


Fresh Fork Market Week 10

???????????????????????????????  Week 10 of my Fresh Fork Market summer and I’m not even halfway through – that’s exciting! As the seasonal crops transition into mid-summer fare,  I am enjoying the change of flavors and opportunity to move into different categories of recipes. This week’s FFM bag included candy onions, tomatoes, 3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, blackberries, Early Gold apples, Italian sausage, fresh basil, and the best-tasting cantaloupe I have had in a long time.

???????????????????????????????Since I was out of town last week and did not pick up my bag,  I used the credits to pick up some additional items for this week.  More Early Gold apples were my first choice – we are ready to bite into a fresh-picked crisp eating apple!  Cherry tomatoes and fresh blueberries were added next, along with some delicious granola for breakfast.  My daughter begged for the ground beef for cheeseburgers – again.  And I threw in the kielbasa for a quick meal later in the week.   So much color and flavor came home with me, I feel inspired to be creative and maximize the nutrition of these foods in my cooking this week.

Fresh blueberries at our house can mean only one thing:  Blueberry Cream Pie.  When my husband and I were married 27 years ago, we enjoyed some delicious meals on our honeymoon.  But our absolute favorite was a blueberry cream pie.  In fact, we had it for dessert several times.  For a few years I searched through magazines and cookbooks hoping to find a similar recipe. (Remember, this was before Pinterest!)  Finally I found a recipe that looked promising.  After our first bite of this pie, we knew we had found what we were looking for.  In fact, we actually like this recipe better than the original pie.   Now it is a staple at our house in blueberry season and even occasionally in the middle of winter if I thaw some frozen blueberries.   Here’s the recipe for Blueberry Cream Pie as it appeared in Country Magazine, 1995:

  • ??????????????????????????????? 1 cup sour cream
  •  2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen are OK, but do not thaw; may need to bake slightly longer)

Beat the first six ingredients for 5 minutes or until smooth.  Fold in blueberries. Pour mixture into unbaked 9″ pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven.  Sprinkle the following topping on the pie:

  • 3 Tbsp. flour.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped pecans

Combine these 3 ingredients to form a soft crumb topping.  Bake for 10 more minutes. Chill before serving.  Delicious!

Fresh Fork Market is hosting their next canning event on Saturday, August 16th.  It’s all about tomatoes-canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.  It’s not too late to sign up.  Check out the Fresh Fork Market Canning Club on Facebook.  It’s sure to be a good time!



Fresh Fork Market: Weeks 8 and 9

???????????????????????????????Rain and cool temperatures have made for an interesting summer here in northeast Ohio.  And my schedule has made for an interesting summer as well!   My Fresh Fork Market bag arrived last Wednesday with blueberries, lettuce, cheese, eggs, squash, and some other delicious freshness.  With company in town,  I was able to use several of these items quickly, which made my menu planning easy. However, I did not get my blogging time in-thus, no pictures or food ideas.   This week I am headed out of town, so I will not be picking up my FFM bag today.  This is another great feature of Fresh Fork Market – the flexibility of the plan.

Fresh Fork Market, I have learned, is actually a Farm Buying Club. Though similar in its roots to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), a farm buying club is more like a co-op in that several farms contribute to the organization, thus providing more variety to their customers.  This benefits the consumer, obviously, but this also benefits the farmer because any one farm does not have to provide all the produce being distributed.  Fresh Fork Market works with these farms and plans distribution based on what is available each week.  In addition, Fresh Fork Market allows the customer to cancel a weekly pick-up in advance, due to vacation plans, for example.   Not picking up this bag means I will receive credits to use for produce in the remaining season.  Next week my pick-up plan will resume as usual.  And all of this can be arranged online at the Fresh Fork Market website.

So if you have given some thought to trying the Fresh Fork Market plan, I have given you another reason to sign up.  I look forward to next week’s pick up and a new adventure in fresh foods.  Have a great week!

Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

???????????????????????????????Last week in my Fresh Fork Market bag I received 2 small cabbage heads, beautifully light green and crisp.  All week long I have contemplated my first-ever attempt at cabbage rolls, wondering if I could make them as yummy as the ones others have prepared that I have enjoyed.  Cabbage rolls are not simple, but neither are they extremely difficult.  Tonight finally afforded me the time and energy to take on this new food challenge.

First step, find a recipe.  An online search revealed several options, of course.  I could not settle on a specific recipe so finally decided to make up my own from the features I liked in several recipes.  I know, not the wisest choice for someone who has never made them before!  But I like to be my own cook, my own person, as they say. Plus, I like to force myself to use what I have in my cupboards already, unless it is impossible to make adequate substitutions. So, to be honest, I am writing this blog at a late hour because I am afraid I will not remember what I did while making these cabbage rolls; thus, I need to write it down for my own future reference!

???????????????????????????????Second step, carefully separate the cabbage leaves and remove the hard stem portion with a sharp knife.  Then cook/wilt the leaves in boiling water for 2-4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Third step, prepare the filling.  Here’s where I modified the recipes.  The filling calls for rice.  I had a small amount, but not enough.  So I opted for a Near East Quinoa/Brown Rice Mix with a seasoning packet I had on hand.  I prepared it according to the directions and then proceeded with the recipe.  Here’s what went in the filling:

  • ???????????????????????????????1 lb. traditionally seasoned pork sausage, uncooked (can use lean ground turkey or ground beef)
  • Some chopped onion, to your liking ( I used about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. condensed tomato bisque soup
  • the cooked quinoa blend

I mixed this thoroughly, using my hands, until it was well blended.  Then I scooped the mixture into the cabbage leaves, rolled each leaf up like a burrito, and placed it carefully in a glass 13×9 pan, positioning each stuffed cabbage leaf closely to the next one.

Fourth step, cover the stuffed leaves with sauce.  One recipe I looked at used tomato sauce, another tomato soup.  I had neither.  I did have a can of tomato bisque soup.  After using the 2 Tbsps above, I added about 1/2 cup sour cream to the remaining condensed soup and stirred this well.  Add a little more sour cream or water if it needs to be thinned out.  (Next time I will make a little more sauce to pour over the rolls before baking them.) Spoon this over the cabbage rolls, then bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or more, until meat is thoroughly cooked.

I have read cabbage rolls freeze well, which is my intent.  However, I couldn’t help but taste one as soon as it was cool enough.  I was surprised and excited at the flavorful result. Thanks, Fresh Fork, for once again expanding my experience and appreciation for fresh delicious food.

I know I have not provided this recipe (or other recipes on my blog) in a specific format or with a printable option.  I hope this does not create a difficulty for anyone.  Primarily I view this blog as an idea blog, something to encourage your creativity and mine as we cook, rather than simply providing recipes.  Hopefully a few of my ideas will spur you on to try a few of your own as well!

Fresh Fork Market: Week 7

???????????????????????????????Here in Northeast Ohio we are reaching our mid-point of summer.  July 4th is a memory, back-to-school sales are popping up, and Labor Day is beginning to loom on the horizon.  But my Fresh Fork Market fun is only one-third of the way complete, as their program continues until the end of October – so my fun food journey continues!

This week’s FFM newsletter  apologetically explained that our recent cooler Northeast Ohio temps have slowed the harvest of some produce which is usually available by now.  No need to apologize here!  I am still experimenting with new foods and recipes when I come home every week with something I would not have normally purchased at the grocery store.  This week’s bag was no exception. Filled to the brim with fresh lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, candy onion, beets, yellow squash, tomatoes and a pork shoulder roast, these ample delights will keep me busy for the next week.  I added a dozen fresh eggs and a loaf of homemade wheat bread I picked up at the truck (which I again forgot to take a picture of while there!)

I began by slow-cooking the pork roast in the crock pot with some onion, a celery stalk, and a bit of salt and fresh-ground pepper.   I added about a cup  of water and turned the crock pot to a low setting, then allowed the meat to cook most of the day. (I learned on a TV cooking show that we tend to put too much liquid in the crock pot with our meats.  Generally meats require no more than 8 oz. of liquid when cooking in a crock pot. The meat will generate its own juices, and when these combine with too much added liquid, we tend to drown the meat and diminish the flavor.) When I removed the pork roast from the crock pot, it was fork-tender and shredded easily.  I added some barbecue sauce and placed the meat in a freezer bag for a quick,easy summer meal later next week when I have company arriving.

There were two medium cabbage heads in my FFM bag.  The last time I received cabbage we made a delicious cole slaw recipe for our July 4th picnic. This time I am going to attempt making stuffed cabbage rolls.  I have always enjoyed these when others have served them, but I have not made these myself.   Fresh Fork has motivated me to conquer kale chips, kohlrabi, Swiss chard – and now cabbage rolls.   We will see how this goes!

???????????????????????????????In addition to receiving my FFM produce, this week also included our family’s once-a-year blueberry picking event.  We love blueberries at our house and make sure we have enough to enjoy year-round.  Blueberries freeze well and are easily used for so many recipes, from baked goods to pancake syrup to layering in a breakfast yogurt parfait.  My husband, daughter and I spent an hour or so out in the country, at Voytko Farms, enjoying the early evening sunshine and cool breeze as we picked 21 pounds (at only $2 a lb.)  of some of the best-looking blueberries I have seen.  On our way home, we stopped in the delightful town of Chagrin Falls, grabbing a light supper at a local diner and taking in the sights of the beautiful waterfall there.  The drive home took us past stunning historic homes with magnificent architecture and equally breath-taking landscapes.  My husband asked me, as I was drooling on the car window, if I was wishing I lived in the country.   My reply:  I love our suburban home – but a ride in the country once in a while satisfies my internal itch to be a farm girl.   Arriving home, I spent the rest of the evening freezing blueberries and planning to make blueberry jam and even try some bread-and-butter pickles later this summer.  Who says you can’t be a country girl even if you only have a small kitchen and a suburban yard?  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!