It is a running joke in my family that some of us are part squirrel. We spend a lot of time and energy putting food by for the coming winter. It is not uncommon to find jars upon jars of canned goods in pantries and stuffed to the brim chest freezers at my relatives' houses. I like to think I am carrying on the (somewhat frantic and tiring) tradition. I have definitely done my part this year!
Tomatoes and peppers from my dad and grapes from my grandma.
Collards and kale from my dad.
A major source of my preserving produce came from my dad, but we have our garden, too! We planted lots and lots of tomatoes, not having any idea how many of my dad's we would get.
Before that load on the table in the earlier photo arrived, I had whittled the tomatoes down to this one platter full. And, then the next delivery showed up!
Since then, we have thankfully returned to the point of just eating what we are growing and I am DONE preserving tomatoes. In order to be excused from further tomato canning, I shared most of those flats of tomatoes with my knitting group friends. Win-win! In case you missed it, I have preserved a lot of tomatoes this year.
Our gleanings included a mixture of peppers, chilies and jalapenos that had Paul's name all over them (I am a wuss when it comes to hot peppers).
And now, let me share some of the things I did this year to squirrel these veggies away for later...
Sofrito sauce with thyme from Put 'Em Up, frozen into ice cube trays to flavor rice and other dishes later on.
Multiple trays of slow roasted tomatoes with herbs that were later frozen.
Lots of salsa! I tried 3 recipes this year: Corn Salsa and Heirloom Salsa both from Put 'Em Up and Basic Tomato Salsa from Food in Jars. I foresee a lot of beans/rice/salsa, burritos and nachos in my future!
Paul has been really excited about fermenting lately. He made a batch of fermented greens and 3 kinds of fermented hot sauces. Here I captured our little fermentation station with his goods and a batch of my kombucha.
Speaking of kombucha, it has been determined that grape is Paul's favorite flavor of kombucha, so I made more juice with those grapes from my grandma. A quart jar of this juice is enough to flavor a gallon batch of kombucha. It gets darker and more flavorful as it sits. I followed the same process as last year as it worked really well and is on the lesser side of the the labor scale. Although, of course, that is not taking into account the cleaning and sorting of the grapes. Still, this is a treasured item in my pantry and I am very grateful to have had free sources for grapes last year and this year.
I also received dill flowers and cucumbers from my dad, so I made 2 batches of fermented sour pickles. We LOVE them. I can't see any reason to make pickles with vinegar ever again. Fermented pickles are where its at. And, garlic. Garlic is where its at, as well.
Glutton for punishment that I am, I also went to the farmers' market and stocked up on a few things that we didn't get from my family or grow ourselves. My purchases included 2 watermelons for dehydrating (yellow and red, yummy!) as well as a ton of red bell peppers which we fire-roasted, skinned, seeded and then froze. In case you are keeping track, I have dehydrated 4 watermelons and yet we are almost out of dehydrated watermelon! That could have something to do with the fact that I adore this treat and Paul is pretty taken with the salted batch I made most recently.
I also tried 2 batches of kale chips with some of those greens. I flavored one with soy sauce and one with nutritional yeast. I like the texture, but I over-seasoned them. I will know better next time. These batches will be consumed more like a seasoning than an end product. So far I have crushed them and spread them over popcorn. I liked it that way! I think it would also be good sprinkled over a stir fry or pasta. The greens that I didn't give away or turn into chips were blanched and frozen.
A batch of Carrot Tomato Soup went into the freezer as well. Can you guess how full my freezer is?
I am not done with my squirreling efforts quite yet as the raspberries are still going strong, we have a small box of apples to process, a ton of dried beans to shell and cure and 4 heads of cabbage that are headed for the kraut cutter sometime really soon. That said, it has been really wonderful to have most of the preserving behind me and to spend some time and energy enjoying the fall bounty by preparing food to eat right now. Like that cranberry zucchini bread I made last weekend (modified this recipe by subbing in applesauce for half of the oil, whole wheat pastry flour for half of the all purpose flour and sliced almonds instead of walnuts) with the giant zucchini that snuck into our produce delivery.
I'd call myself a maker. More specifically: a knitter, an urban gardener, a food preserver, a cook, a baker, a reader, a photo taker, a budding sewist and an all-around dabbler. I enjoy using this space to record the things I see, make, eat, and do.
My husband and co-conspirator on the much linked to Mega Man hat. He is the house expert when it comes to all things with electrical cords/chargers and/or anything that requires configuring. When I first met Paul he was a smoker and a vegetarian. Now he is a non-smoker who enjoys making smoked meat in his BBQ. Paul recently dove headfirst into brewing beer and is quickly acquiring mad brewing skills. If you are really lucky, he will invite you to one of his Meat Meet Supper Club dinners or Beer Release parties.
Cast of Characters: Fanny
Fanny joined our family in 2008 and has been keeping our laps warm ever since then. When we met Fanny at a shelter in Boston, we thought she was a small, adult cat. We were wrong. She must have been less than a year old, because when we brought her home and fed her, she kept getting bigger and bigger and fluffier and fluffier. In addition to her stellar cuddling skills, Fanny’s claim to fame is that she is a polydactyl cat with a fused or “super” claw. We think she is super in every way.
Cast of Characters: Camilla Cordon Bleu
Camilla is our chicken with charm. She is usually the first one to come running to see if you have a treat for her. She is also the chicken most likely to be found perched somewhere she shouldn’t be or wandering off by herself to explore a new area first. Camilla is a Barred Rock, expected to lay brown eggs and is the smallest bird in our flock.
Cast of Characters: Nellie Noodle Soup
Nellie is our bridge bird as she seems to hold the flock together. She usually roosts between Camilla and Petunia and can be found happily foraging alongside either one of them. The only thing that ruffles her feathers is finding herself alone. She is a Rhode Island Red and our biggest hen. Nellie is our first layer and lays brown eggs.
Cast of Characters: Petunia Pot Pie
Petunia is our crafty dodger. She is the hardest to catch and the last to be won over with treats. Her feathers are beautifully ornate which helps make up for her slightly bullyish attitude towards Camilla. She is an Ameraucana, which means she might lay green/blue eggs for us.
In Memoriam: Tchazo
Tchazo, our Weimaraner, was born 3 days before Paul and I had our first date. During our first date, Paul and I egged each other on about getting dogs. Eight weeks later, Tchazo became a part of our lives. After almost 12 amazing years and countless adventures together, we said goodbye to Tchazo in 2014. Tchazo loved life, especially the parts that include eating, smelling, sunbathing, playing and cuddling on the bed. We will forever remember him and the lessons he taught us about joy.
In Memoriam: Jack
I adopted Jack at about the same time Paul bought Tchazo (see previous note about egging each other on), but since Tchazo was young and needed to stay with his mom for a few more weeks, Jack came into our house first. For a while, he HATED Tchazo but they eventually became 24-7 buddies. After nearly 11 years together, we had to put Jack down in March of 2013. Jack was a little crazy in the head, but we learned how to live with it. His favorite things included licking the floor, lying under the couch and gazing at me longingly. Jack was physically incapable of wagging his tail whilst being petted. I like to think it is because he was soaking up the love so intensely that it required his full concentration.