Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gratitude

Temperatures have finally begun to cool and we sigh a breath of relief.  The growing season is almost done which means our canning and preserving will now drop down to only small amounts each week.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am though, that while there was so much work to do, each and every day, we now have so much more in our larder.  But even more, I have learned so much more this year about canning and preserving that it shocks me to think back to even four years ago.  We have tried so many new things this year, so many new recipes.  I'm just so glad that I have posted these here so that in several years from now I can retry these again later.  
Next year we will not be canning or preserving to the extent we did this year as next year we will be moving. Whether it is due to a military Permanent Change of station (PCS) or retirement.  My husbands time of 20 years of serving his country in the US Army is about up and it's time for us to begin the life we really want.
However this blog will continue!  No worries, I am not throwing in the towel!
So now, that all being said, I continue with my State of the Union...oops, I mean Garden address. 
First and foremost, my God, what a busy day.  My husband and I got two quarts of Coleslaw and three pints and two half pints of Black Bean and Corn, Tomato Salsa done.  The coleslaw looks a tad bit different than the traditional coleslaw but only because we used purple cabbage instead of white.  Hey, we had to use what we had on hand and there is no way we can eat through a whole head of cabbage in one week without preserving some of it.

Salads with loads of purple cabbage will be the norm for us this week, along with an experimental loaf of no knead rosemary bread.  For the no knead bread check out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  This whole idea has saved us loads of $$$ as we no longer purchase grocery store artisan bread. 
 The salsa we decided last minute to make simply because currently we have one more pint of peach tomato salsa, and we have our corn tomato salsa (which was awesome by the way!) but we had no really super spicy salsas for this year (and I really see no reason to purchase something that I know I can make at home).
Since it was so chilly out today we decided some of our tomato plants have outlived their usefulness so we picked off whatever green tomatoes were left, along with whatever slightly ripe tomatoes we had, some jalapenos, a lone habenero, a few bell peppers from the garden, some corn and some black beans I cooked up this morning and voila.  A perfect spicy salsa, ready to be served with chips, eggs or a burrito later on this year!  YUM!
Next job.  More herb butter.  I have been rushing as of late to get as many of these put away as I can.  Recently, while working on one thing or another I had a thought.  Wouldn't sun dried tomato and basil butter taste really good?  So I tried it!  And you know what? It does taste awesome!
Zesty, tasty, tomato & basil.  
Had to try some on some french bread of course!
Next, I really needed a break from the muggy heat of the kitchen, as we were not only canning but also blanching broccoli to be both dried and frozen for later so I took a walk through our modest garden.
Things are starting to calm down a bit and most of our tomatoes seem to be nearing their end.  The eggplants keep producing flowers but there are no longer any actual fruits on them.  Next weekend those will be pulled up along with a few more of our tomato plants.  Oddly enough, we have one lone tomato plant which seems to have it's seasons all mixed up.  All summer long this plant BARELY produced one single tomato and yet now, at the very end of the season it has produced massive amounts of tomatoes.  I can't wait to see how they taste!Our bed full of carrots, salsify, mixed greens and a few unknown brassicas are still hanging around and the carrots and salsify seem to be liking the cooler nights we've been having.  I am really looking forward to tasting the salsify.  I've never tried that one before!
I'm beginning to think our winter crookneck will be providing only one more large fruit.  All the other female flowers have fallen off.  Still what we currently have on here is pretty impressive, considering that these were actually free since we received a squash last year from our CSA share. And then we discovered we had stowaways in our yard this year.  Its the gift that just keeps on giving.
I did just discover something that I found really quite interesting if you have a dehydrator.  You cannot safely can winter squash.(this includes pumpkins guys!)  It is too dense so the squash will never fully reach the temperature inside the jar to kill any botulism spores.  That's BAD.
You CAN however dehydrate your squash for use later.
See the video here for details on that!
I did have one further surprise while walking around and enjoying the Autumn air.  We have MORE poblanos! A week ago we removed all the poblanos, brought them over to my husbands coworker and thoroughly enjoyed plateful after plateful of chile rellenos.  These peppers so far have been pretty small but where they lack size, they make up for it in taste!! Next year we will most definitely be growing these!

One other tidbit that I just realized while talking with my husband!  We have planted Ostrich ferns all over our front area near our carport.  I have no idea if this idea will work or not.  It was my one last attempt at getting something to grow there.  The very cool thing with Ostrich ferns is that during the spring months, for a pretty short period of time they will produce fiddlehead ferns.  I have only had these maybe twice in my entire life but each time they were delicious.  The taste is somewhat similar to asparagus. 
I would post a picture but there really isn't much to see yet.  The plants are all still very small. 
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