Random thoughts, random images

Reminds me of the bonfire

I have a bunch of leftover images and thoughts from the past week, and thought I’d see if I can string them together randomly in a way that makes some sort of sense.  Or not.  Who says a blog post has to make sense?

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298: Let’s lay this one to rest

Queen Anne’s Lace getting ready to bloom

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of hits on my blog as a result of this search:  Freezing broccoli without blanching.  I have become the expert (heh) on this subject ever since I posted Freezing broccoli back in 2008.  Every year around this time, people who want to freeze broccoli without going to the trouble of blanching it start searching around for someone to tell them it’s okay to do that.


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A rock

(A rock between two hard places.)

Opposition is a natural part of life.  Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition — such as lifting weights — we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.

~ Stephen R. Covey

This is another of the leftover photos from our trip.  It was taken at Freeman’s Run at Austin Dam Memorial Park.

In other news…

I’m off to pick up the broccoli as soon as Hilgert’s market opens (at 8:00am).  The next two days will be all about the blanching and freezing process.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put it all.  Reorganizing the freezer didn’t make as much space as I’d hoped.

We finished up the last packet of last year’s broccoli at dinner last night.  It was a fitting goodbye to the old as we get ready for the new.  And it was delicious served with grilled salmon and potato cakes.

One of the big search terms around here lately is about blanching broccoli.  Or rather, about freezing broccoli without blanching it.  Every year around this time a lot of someones want to shortcut their way to preserving the broccoli harvest.  I would not recommend it.  The blanching process retards the activity of enzymes that cause the vegetable to become tough as well as lose its flavor and nutrients.  I realize it would be easier and less time consuming to cut up the broccoli, throw it in a bag and into the freezer.  Blanching takes time and work.  It’s worth every moment of it when January rolls around and you taste the almost-fresh flavors of the broccoli picked in August.

Freezing broccoli

(Tangerines. Franklin Park Conservatory. Feb. 2008. © Robin)

Once again, the photo has nothing to do with the post. It’s from my archives. Pretty yummy looking fruit, don’t you think?

It’s also a good reminder to me to be sure to get plenty of vitamin C.

This month of blogging about food has been fun. I’ve learned that my food photography skills are not nearly as bad as I thought they were. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but some of my shots were decent.

Anyone know yet what the NaBloPoMo theme for August will be? Just curious. I don’t think I’ll jump on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon again until November. It depends on the themes. If something grabs my interest and gives me another chance to practice my photography, I’ll go for it.

Yesterday Elaine, a new visitor to Life in the Bogs, asked how I freeze my broccoli. It’s very easy.

Preparation: You want to select young, firm, tender stalks with compact heads. Remove the leaves and any woody portions. Separate the heads into sections. I generally cut it up into portions that are ready for eating, but if there are some long stalks, I’ll just separate them into “spears.” Immerse the cut up broccoli in brine (about 4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon of water) for 30 minutes to remove any insects that might be hiding in the heads (usually you’ll find some little, bright green, worms). If you haven’t already done so, split the spears lengthwise so flowerets are no more than 1-1/2 inches across.

I rinse it after it’s soaked. I don’t know why. You probably don’t have to.

There are two methods of blanching: Water blanching and steam blanching. Blanching, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, is the scalding of vegetables. Blanching kills off the enzymes that cause the vegetables to grow and mature. Without blanching, these enzymes would stay active even during the frozen stage and cause off colors, off flavors, and some toughening of the veggies.

I’ve tried both water and steam blanching. I prefer the water method. It seems to work better (for me. Your mileage may vary.).

Water blanch the broccoli in batches (usually one gallon of water per pound of veggies). Bring the water to a boil, then lower the veggies into the water allowing the water to continue boiling. Cover and start timing from this point. For broccoli, you want to blanch it for 3 minutes in boiling water. (Steam blanching time is 5 minutes.) I have a small wire basket that I use to lower the veggies into the water and to make it easier to get them out.

After 3 minutes, remove the broccoli from the water and immerse it in cold water for 3 minutes (the rule of blanching is that you cool it for as long as you blanched it). This stops the cooking process. You want to do this right away, as over blanching your veggies is just as bad as under blanching.

Drain thoroughly. I lay the broccoli out on a towel and kind of toss it around in the towel (gently!) to dry it. If it’s too wet, ice crystals will form and your broccoli will get freezer burnt. Blech.

Package the broccoli, leaving no headspace. Seal and freeze.

I use freezer bags, and suck the air out of them with a straw. One of these days I might invest in one of those sealing things that vacuum packs your food. In the meantime, this method works well.

Hope that helps. 🙂

The broccoli is in

(Getting ready to grill. © Robin, 2008.)

The broccoli is in! Yay!

I picked up my order from the farm down the street today. 17 lbs. of beautiful, green, healthy-for-ya broccoli.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), I’ve spent the day cutting, blanching, and freezing broccoli. I’ve been eating some of it too. It’s delicious. I’m always amazed at how sweet freshly picked broccoli tastes.

The photo above, by the way, has nothing to do with broccoli or anything else in this post. I took it a week or two ago when we were grilling veggies to go with our dinner. It’s my back-up photo. I’d have taken a photo or ten of the broccoli, especially after it’s blanched and takes on that gorgeous green color, but my camera is once again traveling without me. I’ll have it back again in a week. In the meantime, I’ll have to rely on my archives if I need a photo.

Got a call from the doc today about some blood work I had done. It seems I have iron deficiency anemia. Not sure why. I guess I’ll find out eventually. In the meantime, it’s high doses of iron supplements for me. I better make sure I get plenty of fiber with those supplements. They can be hell on the digestive system.