Monday, November 15, 2010

Cleaning out the Refrigerator!

You know things are bad when you dream about the vegetables in your fridge. I’ve been thinking all weekend about all the things I have to do…and make. I have a very long list of things to try, vegetables to use up, soon, canning I still want to do and fruit that has to be used very soon.

I was dreaming about the cranberries in my fridge. I bought an extra large bag at Costco this year hoping to find a way to bottle the “fresh” cranberry-orange relish I always make at Thanksgiving time. I usually freeze the leftovers in small bottles to use with different dishes I make during the year but I have spent hours trying to decide what to do with the rest of those cranberries. Still thinking on that.

So when I got up this morning I was still thinking about those cranberries and the oranges to go with them in my fridge. Until I opened the door to the fridge and remembered all those carrots that are waiting for me. And the apples that need to be used soon. Thank goodness the pumpkins and squash are waiting patiently. What to do first!?!

I had already decided to make another batch of carrot pudding because it is so good. And it is very nice to have a quick dessert all ready to heat up and serve with ice cream or whipped cream and caramel sauce. So I hurried and grated carrots for another batch and guess what? It didn’t even make a dent in all those carrots waiting for me. Then I remembered this delicious carrot soup I made last fall. I loved it and it made a big batch. It freezes well so I froze the leftover soup in serving size containers and we ate it all up through the winter.

I thought about making another batch of the soup and freezing it again but I am really making an effort to clean out my freezer so I have room for my holiday baking. And because I find myself freezing more leftovers this time of year, I really need the freezer room. Besides, I felt kind of guilty just moving it from the fridge to the freezer. I knew it needed be canned.

After doing some research on how to can it, I was set. I grated more carrots - about 10 cups full – grabbed some of those apples that kept staring me down when I looked in the crisper, and I knew I was on to something good. Never fear, there are still more carrots in the fridge! And more apples! And THOSE cranberries!

I’m including the recipe for the soup and for some carrot cake loaves that are topped with cream cheese icing that my mom always made with her leftover carrots. These loaves freeze well and make a nice little something to give with a card to a friend when they are having a bad day or just because.

This Carrot and Apple Soup is a recipe I found years ago. I have tweaked it a bit and I really like it. It will be great having it ready to heat up. Last year for Christmas I gave a basket of different canned and baked goods along with some of this soup to a sweet friend of mine. She loved the soup and asked for the recipe. This is a thick soup that can be eaten as is or with vegetables, meat or pasta added. It has a slightly sweet flavor with a hint of curry. It calls for cream to be stirred in just before serving, which is so good. I like it just the way it is or with some cooked pasta and shredded cheese on top. It’s good with leftover vegetables or meat added too. If you want to can some, here is the recipe or you can make it and freeze the leftovers if you want. I used my salad shooter and grated the carrots and the apples in no time at all.

Carrot and Apple Soup
3 T. butter
2 onions, finely chopped
5 med. Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored & chopped (I used a couple extra because I had them)
2 ½ lb. carrots, peeled & chopped or grated (I used about 10 c. grated)
3 cans (14 oz.) chicken or vegetable broth
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
½ t. ground ginger (use fresh if you want)
½ - 1 t. curry powder (according to your taste)
3 c. water
Half-n-half or heavy cream for serving, optional
In large soup pot, melt butter. Sauté onions in butter till tender and golden. Stir in apples, carrots, broth, sugar, salt ginger and water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer 20 minutes or till carrots are tender. Puree mixture in blender (I used an immersion blender) until smooth. It is ready to eat or freeze at this point. To can soup, pour into hot jars with ½” of top of jar. Add lids and rings. Process pints in pressure canner at 15 lbs. pressure for 35 minutes. *If using frozen soup, move to the fridge to thaw. Reheat and serve with a swirl of cream or garnish with chives, any of your favorite cooked vegetables or pasta.

Carrot Cake Loaves
2 c. flour
2 t. soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
4 eggs
2 c. cooked mashed carrots
2 t. vanilla
2 c. sugar
1 ¼ c. oil
Beat eggs. Add carrots, vanilla, sugar and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into 5 small well-greased loaf pans. (If you use the small foil pans they are ready to give away.) Bake at 350º for about 50 minutes (the smallest pans may require less time so watch carefully) or till cake pulls away from sides of pans. Frost with cream cheese frosting and eat or freeze for later.

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