September 14, 2011

Fall is Upon Us and We're Storing the Harvest

It just might be fall.  Our hot streak is over and we're back to the normal cool, grey weather in the 60's.  Usually we're cold immediately after Labor Day, but this year we were blessed with two weeks of hot summer weather. Soon the sandals will all be put away and the socks will come out.  The pumpkin, winter squash, and root vegetable recipes will appear on the blogs and Facebook posts. I took proper advantage of the summer's harvest and managed to put up 100 pounds of organic tomatoes, 100 pounds of peaches, 50 or more pounds of strawberries, some blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Many are canned, some are in the freezer ready for smoothies, desserts, and jam. We've got garden fresh green beans canned and this year, lots of fruit and vegetables dried. I won't be buying dried tomatoes this year. There's garlic and herbs of all kinds hanging in the kitchen and onions and potatoes stored for those winter meals.  The garden didn't do as well as other years, but we still harvested plenty enough to keep us from buying at the grocery store. What I didn't grow my local organic farmer grew.  The peaches come from Eastern Washington.  They had a short season too this year, they were only at the markets for about two weeks.

Went over to Rachel's house for a good day of canning a couple weeks ago.  She also has her canning set up for outdoors.  She has a double gas burner.  I show up early, bring my canner and we get busy.  Everybody gets in on it.  The guys snapped all the green beans, Scott helped us with the canning, and Damon grilled the tuna. With her burner we can get two batches of jars done with her canner and mine going at the same time.  She can blanch the peaches and get a batch of jars going at the same time.  I get a lot of exercise going back and forth from the deck to the kitchen at my house.  I think I need one of those double burners. We canned 50 pounds of peaches and the close to the same amount of green beans.  When I left late at night, she was putting on another batch of the jars of beans we filled and getting ready for her tomato canning adventures the next day.

I've got six more heads of cabbage from the garden. I'll get in the crock for some home made sauerkraut tonight.  A few more weeks of fresh local vegetables, I'm not sure what I'll put up next, but the tomatoes in my garden could still ripen, I hope, and need to be 'processed'. If they don't I'll just have to get out all the green tomato recipes:  salsa. enchilada sauce, and I even have some for  bread and muffins.

Rachel also enjoys cooking with fresh, whole foods.  She's a great cook and a talented kitchen witch. She has some unique flavor combinations.  I always enjoy whatever she makes. As usual we combined our talents and made a wonderful dinner. She made her vegetable gyoza with a sweet & spicy dipping sauce.  They were ready before the main dishes and were quite welcome with the hungry gang around the fire pit. I had to remember to stop eating them so I could eat dinner.  Her husband brought home a fresh tuna which we grilled on the barbeque.  I made baked fresh bell peppers from the garden stuffed with quinoa, black rice, vegan sausage, and herbs. I topped them with a raw pasta sauce and Daiya cheese. Rachel put together a fresh green salad with her garden veggies and we roasted an eggplant.  It was a perfect summer feast. Her dad joined us and brought in some fresh blackberries he'd picked the same afternoon. She whipped together a blackberry polenta cake.  I think we ended up calling it blackberry pudding cake.  It was so good, like jam filled cake. Very nice of her to include some of it in my leftover package.  After the long day of canning and an hours drive home, it was a very welcome snack when I got into my jammies and settled in the house.

Vegetable Gyoza
Quinoa & Black Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

Marinating Eggplant
Blackberry Polenta Pudding Cake - Blackberry Goodness

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