I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oven Dried Tomato's

There has been an increase in tomato production in the garden over the course of the last couple of weeks. What to do? What to do?..... Oven dried tomatoes of course. I made these last year and they have been - heavenly.

Simply quarter or halve the tomatoes depending on size and place them in your oven on a low heat. Then walk away for a while. It may take anywhere from 8 to 10 hours for them to dry.Why not a dehydrator you ask? Because mine does not work well on tomatoes and they get moldy before they are dry.  Silly Florida humidity.

When the tomato quarters are dried and slightly chewy dip them in (about 1/4 C.) balsamic vinegar you have simmering on the stove. Then pack into jars with a garlic clove that has been simmered in the vinegar as well.  I like to add fresh marjoram and fresh rosemary as I am packing the quarters into the jar.  Pour in the vinegar and then cover completely in olive oil, cap and refrigerate.

The post below says you can seal them and they are shelf stable. I prefer to keep min in the fridge. Oh, and the oil is awesome on pasta and pizza!      

    When needed simply remove from the jar and use on pizza, salads and pasta. So yummy when only store bought tomato's are available and there is no comparison!!!!

This explains it a bit better- Enjoy!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On Farmer's Markets

After having surgery in December, then the holidays rolling in I was a bit stretched to blog often. Last week I swore I would post something and did I ...nope. I spent a large portion of my week end listening to "Mamaw Jo Jo!" from two very precocious two year old's who garnered a great bit of my time. Needless to say one whole day was needed for recovery.

Today I worked inspecting a farmers market. It was the usual conglomeration of non local produce vendors  mixed in with the legit produce vendors trying to sell non local produce to unsuspecting buyers. I don't inspect them but I know where they get the products that they sell to the seasonal residents who are none the wiser. If you are at a farmers market ask where the food comes from. Ask if it is organic and ask if it is in season. Chances are you may be surprised with the answers you get.

I can't post about the places I inspect due to a conflict of interest but you should ask if foods are made in a permitted facility or if they are produced under the Cottage Foods Laws. Cottage foods are foods that can be produced in a persons home. Usually non hazardous foods with little water content cakes, cookies, brownies, and breads - provided there are no cream fillings or butter-cream icing.  Honey, jams and jellies also fall into this category due to the high sugar content. Pickles, relishes and jarred salsas are not cottage foods as they do not meet the ph requirements set out in Florida's laws. You can look up your states information online by simply typing cottage foods and the name of your state. DO NOT BELIEVE information that is not from a state source. Misinformation abounds. I have seen really scary interpretations of our laws on Facebook. Anyone can post on Facebook. For that matter anyone can blog so take what I say at face value and do your own research as well.  

Unscrupulous vendors aside Farmers Markets are great places to get local produce, baked goods and even homemade soaps and crafts. One may simply walk through a market and enjoy the sights, aromas and sounds of the market without the annoyance of muzak or the beeping of a cash register. You are outdoors under the sun mingling with people who support local businesses.  All in all not a bad day!