Yum.

Life is lovely lately. Things are cooling down around here, both literally and figuratively, and we’re feeling a little more relaxed overall. Jeff and I have actually been sitting down together at the end of the night- and it only took us two evenings to finish a movie! Amazing! It’s perfect timing for this lull considering that my dear sister is due with baby number two in about 2 weeks. She’s also just closed on her new house (only about 2 miles from me, woohooo!) and I anticipate being with her a lot in the next few weeks. Little Tuula will be a big sister, not to mention how enormous my little Vera will be next to the newest grandbaby. Ah, new life. Her pregnancy has been so seasonal, too, with everything growing and turning color and getting ready to store up for the winter. Anyway, I can’t help but think of her as "ripe" in these last few days.

Another harvest. Peppers, tomatoes, basil, who knows what else. I’m slowly chipping away at it all, but I’m serious about this local food thing, so I’ve been storing things most nights. I’m just such a newbie, so finding out how to organize all my thoughts on this stuff, how to inventory and track our needs through the year, etc. Well, lets just say I’m counting on time and experience to help me out in the coming years. My ambition hasn’t hurt me yet, it’s only helped me to grow.


Salsa. Can’t have too much salsa for the year.

And tomatoes. Oh those tomatoes. This is an average canned amount from a harvest from my garden. I love canning different colored tomatoes together. Maybe that’s part of why I love swiss chard so much… Oh the colors! Anyway, my friends who have much more space than I do (and were all done canning their tomatoes for the year… ya hear that? ALL DONE?! Who knew it was possible!), let me take home a bunch of their tomatoes, so I spent the other evening canning those and the two batches that were cluttering up my counter from my own garden, and ended up with 21 quarts (formerly 22. One broke.).
Anyway, I’m getting the hang of this canning thing. I don’t really mind it either. It’s not nearly the job that people make it out to be. It’s actually kind of zen, I think. I will say it’s a heck of a lot easier to do with someone to watch the toddler that’s usually hanging on your leg asking to nurse right that second, but I digress. I like canning. I’ve decided to like it. I mean, anything can be an unwanted job, but I’m not going to make this one of them. Cuz I have control like that. Yep, I can just make it a good time. And aren’t they pretty?

At our canning party the other day, my friend (who is a master canner) said that there’s nothing like the popping of the lids at the end of the evening that tell you everything is sealing up just right. I thought that was a nice thought, and so I was sure to appreciate the subtle pop pop pop at the end of my big canning night. We will eat this winter!

I’ve been experimenting with pesto, too. It’s so easy to freeze flat in freezer bags, and is SO appreciated in the winter. Pesto just seems to brighten everything up, especially in January. Anyway, basil pesto is great, but this year I made nasturtium pesto and arugula pesto, both really delicious. I also think it’s a good way to use those greens because they do have a stronger taste to them, and are really nicely mellowed with the nuts and garlic and oil (I add parmesan later before serving).

Oooh! And I had an idea about what to do with all the leftover tomato skins and seeds that turned out to be really delicious. I’ll post a recipe when I get the amounts down, but it’s basically like a tapenade sort of thing- really flavorful and tomatoey, great to spread on crackers or crostini and serve to guests or whatever. I’m really excited about just thinking of ways to reduce waste, and I think this recipe is definitely a keeper. I almost want to ask for people’s leftover tomato skins to make as much of this as I can. It could make a great (and practically free) gift.

I really have to do a lot of this stuff with baby right by my side, and I’ve found that an almost sure way to reduce- if not entirely eliminate- whining is to involve her in some way. I usually set her up with something, often she’s at the sink with a bowl and a spoon and a trickle of water. She’s learned all about "hot", and I’m not too worried about her even when I’m really cooking and she’s right next to me. My little helper!

Kombucha. I will never get tired of this stuff.

Lunch. Turnip and kale soup, grilled cheese, homemade pickle, kombucha.

My dad reading to Vera and Tuula. Can you believe how big they are now? Weren’t they just born? And then next fall there will be three of them! Amazing.

It’s not a great picture, but I just loved her face here. She’s got such a personality lately, and her words are just exploding. She’s really coming into herself. I love listening to her explain things. She’ll look at me with a serious face and say "Papa. Pillow." and point to his pillow. I’ll say "Yeah, that’s papa’s pillow!" and she’ll just say "Yeah." and have this look of accomplishment. This is how it goes for most things- people and spaces and whatever. She seems so pleased with herself, to know the names of things, to understand belonging and purpose and… it’s just cool.

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (16)

  1. purerandomness

    Have you ever done any preserving of pears? We have our harvest from the tree in the yard and I can’t think of what to do with them! I figure I’ll puree up a few and freeze in an ice cube tray for Ben when he gets to solid food stage. But the rest (probably another 25 small pears at most, it wasn’t a huge year): what should I do? I don’t have canning supplies so I should just focus on freezing… so sliced pears? make freezer jam? I just don’t know.

    Do you have any sites that you can direct me to that might have yummy, simple-to-follow instructions?

    My mom does a lot of homemade jams and has gotten into making her own salsas in the past few years (extra spicy for my Dad). I hope to get my own set of canning supplies in the next 5 years or so and start preserving the garden deliciousness!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I have! I actually have a bag of asian pears sitting on my counter right now…

      Last year I made pear sauce- which I loved and still have a little of and should dig up for Vera tomorrow for lunch! You can actually can them even if you don’t have all the supplies (they just take a hot water bath, so you could just get the jars and lids and you’re set to go if you’ve got a big pot). You could make big batch of pear sauce and can half of it, then make pear butter with the other half and give it away for gifts this xmas! You could always freeze that stuff too, just put it all in freezer bags and lay them out flat so they stack well and defrost quickly. I have to reserve my freezer space though, and I am learning to really like canning, so I’d opt for that method.

      I’ve been liking this book, actually, called “Busy Person’s Guide to Preserving Food”. It gives you all sorts of options for how to preserve things based on your time and resources. I really like it.

      With a quick search I found this website, which seems to be great. Thanks for asking this- I think I’ll use this website in the next few weeks. πŸ™‚
      http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

      Reply
  2. pagangoat

    What a lovely post, very seasonal=)
    Autumn is so lovely, I adore all the canning and storing of food. I couldn’t have a garden this year, but have been given lots of produce from people who had too much. Mostly I’ve been freezing it, but canning is always a part of fall. We always end up canning some salmon, it’s so nice to pull out some home canned sockeye in the middle of winter=)
    I’d be interested in your tomato recipe, as I have been dealing with huge amounts of them, mostly making pasta sauce, but if there was a way of using the seeds and skins, that would be nice…

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I hope you get your garden soon! It’s so great that you’ve been storing food anyway, there are so many extras that people have. In the next few years I hope to really learn my town and area and scout out where the good foraging ground is and also see where fruit trees are that people are not harvesting, etc. I’m so envious of your fish! We are surrounded by lakes- not to mention the great lakes, and yet fish is seemingly scarce. There’s a river just 4 blocks from my house that is far too polluted to fish in. Bummer. Anyway, that sounds lovely to have that resource. πŸ™‚

      I’ll post my recipe in the next couple of days- I have to write amounts down with my next batch, it was really just a little of this and a little of that… basically I stuck all the skins in the food processor so the texture would be right. Then I added garlic, sea salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, olives… I think that’s it. Anyway, spread it on a cracker and it was so delicious! I’m going to fool around with it and make different versions with herbs and other seasonings- olives are clearly not local, so I’d ideally like a recipe that is. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. pagangoat

        Where I live there’s a local internet group that posts info about fruit or other excess produce that anyone can pick, usually just with the understanding that some portion gets donated to the local food bank. It’s a pretty sweet deal:)
        My partner’s family have been fishing forever, so there’s always some kind of seafood around, which is definitely awesome!
        That sounds yummy, I’m looking forward to your recipe:)

        Reply
  3. unicorntapestry

    You are amazing, Vera is adorable, and I want some pesto–it looks so green and delicious. mmmm…

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      We love you! I saw that you rang a little while ago, but we missed you! Next time…

      Reply
  4. metalgypsy

    thank you for this post- so inspiring!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      πŸ™‚ Have you been storing any food this year? I hope your baby feels better soon, btw. So sad!

      Reply
  5. see_anotherside

    Hey! Sorry I haven’t been around for a while – I know this is really late but I wanted to say happy birthday to you!

    Your harvest looks great, and Vera is getting so big. I bet she’s tons of fun πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thank you! I hope you’re doing well. Update soon!!!

      Reply
  6. 93_millionmiles

    I want to move somewhere warmer with a longer growing season, but that still won’t completely get me out of this food storage business. I’m glad you write about it because it makes it look so pretty and fun.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      It IS so pretty and fun. It seems to me that it is what I make of it.

      We’re overdue for hanging out. Yep. So how’s this next week look for you?

      Reply
      1. 93_millionmiles

        I have class on Monday and Wednesday, and I think that’s all. If you have a free morning, I’d love to get together.

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          Tuesday morning?

          Reply
          1. 93_millionmiles

            Sounds good. πŸ™‚

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