Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dave's Kitchen

Far, far away, in the land of Texas, I have a good friend named Dave.  Dave lives in his garden, using his house as a place to cook, can, and dehydrate food, and, on rare occasions, sleep.  In his climate he can grow things most of the year.  While I envy that, it's not what I most admire about Dave.
What I admire most about Dave is the canning and dehydrating he does.  I've never even heard of some of the things this guy has stuffed in a jar and run through his canner.  Things like pickled watermelon rinds and candied sweet potatoes.  Or dehydrating sweet pickles, eggs, yogurt (yes, yogurt!), sweet breads (pumpkin, banana, etc.), chili, and leftover spaghetti.  He also salts and smokes food to preserve it.
As a regular feature of this blog we're going to start checking in with Dave and see what he's up to.  We visited him a couple of weeks ago, and he's the real deal.  And if he's not enough of the real deal, you ought to meet his daughters!!!  What an amazing family.  I hope you enjoy and learn from the things I'll be posting from and about them.
 This is just one of the herb beds Dave planted.  This is Basil.  He grows and dries bushels of it every year! 

This is some of Dave's dried basil, vacuum-sealed in Food Saver bags.

The bag in back is dried Okra, and in front is dried sweet pickles.
Dried sweet pickles?
In a message earlier this year Dave wrote:
"Most of what I dehydrate is just regular raw fruit, vegetables, eggs, cooked beans and rice, and left overs,and cooked pasta.

Yesterday I made a chicken and broccoli dish to serve over rice and there was alot left over(intentionally) so I mixed it with the rice and put it into the dehydrator and just took it out, bone dry, only a fraction of the space and it rehydrated great.

My dehydrator was some of the best money I have ever spent(would be lost without it), next to my tiller that is.

While I was waiting for the chicken and rice to finish up, I canned 30 pounds of chicken leg quarters. I used to can it bone-in but I saw that most people cooked it first. I tried it that way, and now I bake it first, then de-bone it and can it."

Candied sweet potatoes (left) and  Mustang Grape Juice
Many of Dave's emails are sent at 1-something or 3-something o'clock in the morning while he's waiting for a canner load of something to finish up.  Or he's about to put something in the dehydrator.  I often wonder what he runs on, because he keeps on running.  Usually he's been out in the garden all day, then prepping, processing, and preserving food most of the night.
So, pull up a chair and grab a bite of candied watermelon rind (it really is good!) and we'll learn together.  Look for a new post from Dave's kitchen about twice a month.
Meanwhile, thanks for all the emails of support after the death of my sister-in-law, and thanks for the prayers and good wishes.  Sadly, after the funeral my 81-year old Father-in-law had a stroke and he's still in the hospital.  He's in rehab/physical therapy right now while they determine what he still has, what he lost, and what they think he can get back.  We're still in Kansas helping out.
Take care, everyone.


  1. Is there anything that cannot be dehydrated?

  2. I'll check with Dave and see what he says. I know the first thing he'll say to answer your question is "Water"!

    For myself, I've had trouble dehydrating fresh raspberries. They turn into hard little red balls that don't dehydrate well. If someone else knows the secret to dehydrating raspberries and rehydrating them successfully I'd appreciate knowing. The dried berries could be ground, by hand with a mortar and pestle, or in a blender, and added to baked goods for flavor and nutrition.

    I can't think of any other fruits or vegetables that don't dehydrate and rehydrate well, but more comments from readers are welcome.

    Meats, eggs, and dairy can be dehydrated, as well as leftovers including soups. I'm hoping Dave will tell us how he does that. I've seen pictures of his finished product and hope to do a post on that. Leftovers, including desserts, can be dehdyrated too.

    I'm looking forward to more input on this question.

    1. I heard back from Dave and here's what he said:
      "I guess my answer to that would be things that dont have oil in them.(lol). A rule that I go by is that if there is fat pooled on the tray after an item is dehydrated, then it may be good to find another way to preserve it.

      Casseroles can be high-fat dishes so what I do is to dehydrate the ingredients that that would store well like veggies and pastas, then can the fatty ingredients like cream, butter or cheese(velveeta or american, cheddar dehydrates ok) then prepare the dish from those ingredients.