Diary & Evolution of a Localvore: The Dehydrator

By: Kay Sokolovic
By: Kay Sokolovic

Kay Sokolovic shares what she's doing with a bumper crop of peppers.

I tend to grow a bumper crop of one particular food item each summer. This year has been the summer


of the peppers - jalapeno, green, banana, cayenne - you name it and I grew it in masses. Let's don't even talk about the tomatoes this year - the fungus/blight or whatever found and massacred all of them. Maybe tomatoes will be the crop of the summer for next year.
Since I am now in pepper overload, I am pickling jalapenos, dehydrating all types, making salsa (with tomatoes from the farmer's markets - not mine) and cooking with them. We've made more pepper pots than anyone can imagine. A pepper pot is a Caribbean stew with chicken and/or beef, tomatoes & LOTS of peppers. Pepper pots are great for using inexpensive cuts of beef, especially with bones, to slow cook. I am fortunate my children really enjoy hot peppers - chopped fresh and topped over salads, meats, soups - everything!
I bought a dehydrator over 15 years ago and it has been a worthwhile investment. I don't think this dehydrator stopped for days when it was the summer of the bumper potato crop. With over 300 lbs. of potatoes, I had to find multiple uses. We definitely ate a lot, but drying was beneficial to use later for scalloped potatoes and soups. A dehydrator also works great for herbs, fruits (even homemade fruit roll-ups), tomatoes and meat jerky. 
Rainbow Meadow Farms & Nooherooka Natural were at the Cornerstone Farm Market this week. I purchased some beef, sausages, bacon and fresh eggs for my local meals. Nooherooka also sells soup bones - great for the pepper pot. Briley's had apples and green beans. I peel & slice the apples, add some water to the pan, cover and cook until the apples are tender and the water is almost gone. I sweeten the apples with local honey and add cinnamon. Green beans are great to steam until crisp tender then saute with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I also made focaccia bread to accompany fresh tomato basil soup.
<b>Pepper Pot</b>
5 lb. Bone-in Chuck Roast
1 Tbl. Salt & 3/4 Tbl. Pepper
5 whole Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 whole Onions - chopped
Dash Nutmeg
1 tsp. Cinnamon
5 whole Cloves
1 Tbl. Grated Fresh Ginger or Powdered Ginger
2 Bay Leaves
3 Jalapeno Peppers
3 Chili Peppers
3 Anaheim Peppers
5 Green Peppers
12 Roma Tomatoes - chopped
Approx. 4 cups water
Sear chuck roast in vegetable oil in deep Dutch Oven. Sear all sides then remove roast. Add 2 tbl. oil to pan. Cut tops off of all peppers, remove seeds, but leave whole. Add all peppers & onions and saute. Add all spices while sauteing. Saute at high heat for 2 min. Return roast to pan, add chopped tomatoes and enough water to cover the beef by 1 inch. Bring to a rapid boil and place into a 450 degree oven, covered, for 30 minutes; reduce heat to 300 degrees and cook for 4 hours. Add liquid if necessary to keep beef covered. Great served with rice!
<b>Butternut Squash Soup (featured on WITN-TV Morning Show September 8, 2009)</b>
1 medium size Butternut Squash
3 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Milk
Salt, Pepper & Cinnamon
Slice butternut squash lengthwise, scoop out stringy inside and seeds, and place cut side down on greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Remove peel and place cooked squash in blender. Puree, add chicken stock, milk then salt, pepper & cinnamon to taste.
Thin with extra chicken stock or milk if necessary. Reheat in a pan on stove.
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