Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moving to new digs

Perhaps you have noticed I've not been posting very much. Perhaps not. Truth is, I've been busy getting ready to move.

As with any great meal, at the end there is always clearing the table. It doesn't mean  there won't be another meal, just that this one is complete.

Almost two years ago, I started with two blogs, A Midwest Garden, and I Hope You Are Hungry. I have enjoyed every minute of every post, but at times found myself off track and off topic.

Later, I started a Facebook page under The Gastronomic Gardener name and the growth there has been gratifying albeit sporadic.
As my interests and focus has changed, I feel I have outgrown these platforms, so I am putting A Midwest Garden and I Hope You Are Hungry to bed.

Blogger has served me well, I’ve entered the world of blogging and made some new friends; but the meal is now at an end. It is time for me to bid farewell to Blogger. I look back and can see how far I've come in terms of quality content and photographs. It is a fine platform as thousands of fellow bloggers can attest. It is just time for me to move on.
But this is not goodbye – but rather, as I said above, a renewal!

I am happy to announce I am launching!

It combines content from both A Midwest Garden, and I Hope You Are Hungry. Series are in the works designed to help and encourage folks learn to garden as well as try out different techniques. There are plans for tools to help in garden planning, planting schedules, and more!
I look forward to sharing what I have learned, to continue learning from my readers and begin fresh with new focus and fervor!
Please join me over at! Take a look around and let me know what you think!

I’ll see you there.

David P. Offutt
The Gastronomic Gardener

Monday, September 26, 2011

An award from a fellow blogger

Recently I received an award from fellow blogger and Chicagoan ChgoJohn over at, a wonderful blog that chronicles the recipes and memories of an Italian family. Through John, I have come to appreciate the tradition of ice cream in his family, the sights, sounds and smells of family gatherings that while about the family, have a rich culinary tradition.

According to "Versy" tradition, I have to give thanks and a link back to the person who gave me this award. Thanks one more time John!

Next I am supposed to divulge seven (7) obscure facts about me.
1) I am the ninth of ten children. I still can hear my late mother calling out all the names until she got to the right one. I also hear her say "David Philip!" when I misbehave.
2) I was a bit of an athlete. I played American football until I realized I was too small and too slow, but I did like to run into people.
3) Continuing in that vein, I particpated in the 1992 Division III 3 Meter Springboard Championship (I came in 32nd as a college freshman)
4) I completed an 3 mile open water swim in less than 90 minutes within the last 5 years.
5) I smoked for more than 20 years. Glad I quit, but there are times....nah... not worth it.
6) I hate mint flavor. It's the only flavor I don't like.
7) I was born with a severely club left foot. Corrective surgery at 6 months old obviously turned out great, but I have one foot that is about 1.5" shorter than the other. Makes buying shoes an adventure. (Not really I just fit the bigger foot)

Here is here where I am supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers. I don't think I can do that as I don't really follow that many. I also need to check and see if they have already received  this award.

In no particular order: - Mark has a wonderful blog with oustanding pictures of his meticulous garden.  If you haven't been there - check him out! - Ohiofarmgirl is doing a great job and inspires me. She has cast off the corporate shackles and embraced the good life. Keep my spot warm, I'm headed ypur way when I get it worked out. - Cowgirl is another hero. Her down home skills are deceptive, she makes the subtle look simple. Once you've checked out her blog, you may go build a smoker. I know  I did! - Annie's Granny - friendly, supportive and a prodigious gardener. I don't know where she gets the energy - she can garden circles around me.

Please go visit them and tell'em I sent you!

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jalapeno Hot Sauce - or What to do with a Pound of Ripe Jalapenos

Yesterday I picked about 75 ripe jalapeno and cherry bomb peppers. There is no way I'm going to be able to use all those peppers fresh, and since I use hot sauce very regularly, I decided to make my own.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 – 1.5 lbs (about 60-70) fresh ripe jalapeno peppers, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups water
2 cups distilled white vinegar

Prepare 1/2 pint canning jars per manufacturer's instructions.

Slice the peppers - wear gloves if desired.

In a non-reactive sauce pan over high heat, combine oil, peppers, garlic, onion and salt; saute for 5 minutes. Add the water and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. You may wish to do this outdoors! Whew!

Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Strain liquid through a sieve into a clean saucepan, discarding solids. It's a pretty color!

Whisk in vinegar.

Return to a boil. Turn off heat.

Ladle hot sauce into a sterilized jars and adjust two piece lids. Process in hot water bath 15 minutes.

Since these are 8oz jars, when ready to use, I'll decant into a squeeze bottle to keep in the fridge.

Alternatively, skip the hot water bath and store in refrigerator up to 4 months.

This will heat things up!

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meatless Monday - Quick Tomato Sauce and Pappardelle

Recently I put up a few pints of Marinara sauce, and in the past I’ve made rich dark “gravy” thick with meat that sat burbling  for hours on a cold winter day.  I love the rich dark silky sauce and I will never tire of it.  

However, this is the time of being flush with tomatoes. With more than I can eat on salads,  have time to can, or find any victims to take them off my hands.

As opposed to the patient and sophisticated deep bass notes of a long simmered sauce, this sauce is brassy, loud and fresh as nineteen-year-old sailor on his first shore leave after three months at sea. 

Add a handful of pungent basil fresh from the garden, a sprig of oregano and a couple cloves of garlic roughly chopped and you have the makings of a quickly prepared, brightly flavored weeknight meal.
No careful measuring here, this is cooking by the seat of your pants, Pinot Noir in a coffee cup, roll up your sleeves, put Sinatra on the music player. Add a salad and enjoy! 


1lb ripe tomatoes cored and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed then chopped
1 ripe jalapeno minced (optional)
Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
1 handful fresh basil leaves – about a dozen - shredded or chiffonade
1 sprig fresh oregano
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Big pinch salt
¼ cup gated parmesan divided
½ cup + of cooking water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ lb dried long pasta – I prefer Tagliatelle or Pappardelle


Prepare  pasta according to directions
While water comes to a boil and pasta cooks…

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering

Add the chopped tomatoes, (jalapeno and red pepper) and toss to coat with oil,  add big pinch of salt

Cook, stirring often until tomatoes soften – about 3-5 minutes

Add garlic, basil and oregano, stir and turn heat down to medium

Continue cooking and stirring often until sauce starts to thicken, reduce heat to medium low

When pasta is just about cooked remove from cooking water and add to tomato mixture. Add ½ + cup of cooking water (add more or less according to how much liquid you want)  and combine, tossng until pasta is done.

Test for seasoning, adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Put sauced pasta in a bowl, top with parmesan, enjoy!

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pickled Jalapenos

The Jalapenos have mostly ripened all at once. I can't use them all fresh and I do love pickled Jalapenos, so that's what I did, canning three pints. These should be nice bright spicy accents in a few weeks.
I tend to eat them right out of the jar, but they are good additions to other dishes as well.

Pickling peppers is easy - use equal amounts of vinegar and water, add a bit of salt, some pepper corns, bay leaf, sugar.

Makes 3 pints

2 lbs of jalapenos, sliced about 1/3" thick
3 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves

Prepare jars according to manufacturers instructions.

Combine all ingredients except peppers in a big pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Pack pepper slices into hot jars leaving 1/4" head space.

Ladle pickling liquid over peppers leaving 1/4" head space, wipe rims, adjust 2 piece caps and process 10 minutes in hot water canner.

After canning, allow flavors to develop a few weeks before using.

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meatless Monday - Pesto Risotto

It isn't always easy trying to figure out what to make for you on Mondays. There is always a little extra pressure to make something new and exciting and still be acceptable to the vegetarians in the group.

I was riding the train home from the city thinking about it and I have plenty of basil, besides a colleague from Germany prodded me the other day that I had not yet prepared a risotto, so Pesto Risotto seemed a natural fit. I also used some of the sweet butter I made back in March. I get excited when I'm dicing the shallots. "I'm cooking with shallots... that I grew!"  I didn't have any pine nuts  for the pesto so I substituted walnuts.

It turned out to be quite filling and good, the creamy base notes of risotto punctuated by the high notes of the basil and garlic. A lovely chord indeed!

Make the pesto first:

3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2/3 +/- olive oil

Turn on food processor and drop in garlic. Process until finely chopped.
Turn it off, add the basil, cheese, salt, pepper, nuts.
Whizz until all is finely chopped, with motor running, add oil slowly until incorporated but not yet smooth.

Set aside.

Now the risotto:

1.25 cups arborio rice
1.5 cups white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
4 tablespoons butter divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small shallots finely diced
big pinch of salt
big pinch of grounf black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesano Romano
1/4 cup pesto
Basil to garnish

In a medium pot over medium heat  add the wine and the broth.
Heat to simmer and then reduce heat to keep barely simmering

In a 4 quart pot, add two tablespoons butter and olive oil

When butter has melted, add the shallots and cook for three minutes until shallots are soft but not browned.

Add the rice and stir to coat with butter oil mixture, cook stirring constantly about 2 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup simmering wine broth mixture and cook - stirring until moisture is absorbed
Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is absorbed before adding next bit of broth.

Repeat until rice is tender, looks creamy but is still al dente - about 15 - 20 minutes

Stir in cheese, salt pepper and pesto.

Garnish with basil leaf and serve immediately. Add a side salad for a complete dinner.

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Canned Marinara

The Romas are finally starting to come in, but there is not enough for a huge batch of sauce. I did however find a recipe for Marinara that only calls of 8lbs of tomatoes.

*If you are not comfortable canning this, you could always freeze it.

Let's give it a go...

Makes 4+ pints

8 lbs. ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes
1-1/3 cups onions, finely minced
2/3 cup celery, finely minced
3 cloves garlic finely minced
1-1/3 cups carrots finely minced
2/3 cup olive oil
1-1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste

Prepare 4 glass pint canning jars, lids and bands

Peel Tomatoes
Drop tomatoes into boiling water, a few at a time.
Let the water return to a boil, then remove the tomatoes and drain. Peel and chop.

In a large pot, cook the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in the olive oil, covered over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times.

Uncover and stir over heat for 5-10 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are very soft and a little gold.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, and pepper and simmer gently, covered for 15 minutes.

Puree the sauce through the medium disc of food mill. You could used a food processor and run through a fine colander

Return to pot, add basil and oregano,  cook at a simmer until desired consistency is reached, about 20-40 minutes, stirring often.

Add salt to taste. If you prefer a smooth sauce, work the sauce through the fine disc of a food mill.  

Ladle hot sauce into prepared hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles.

Wipe rim.

Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until finger tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude.

Remove jars and cool. Use in the dead of winter, think of the warmer months, and smile!

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com
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