Tag Archive | harvest

Eating Colors

This little yellowjacket didn’t want to budge from the base of a chimayo pepper, so I let her stay, happy to share sustenance. She won’t eat much, the pepper will ripen and soon join the harvest basket. Just a handful of yellow beans, jalapeños and a few other peppers this morning, but enough new arugula to make another batch of pesto. There are still loads of green tomatoes and unripe peppers to come, but with this cool spell everything has slowed down. I’m grateful for a rainy day predicted tomorrow. I’m through teaching on Thursdays for awhile, and love the prospect of an empty day in front of me to catch up in the kitchen, and hopefully to start a pet project on the computer that I’ve been procrastinating on for years. We’ll know more later!

A few jigsaw peppers and three small onions will go into the next batch of salsa tomorrow, along with a few super hot peppers and another nine pounds of tomatoes.

I’ve read about cabbage steaks and finally decided to try some. I had a couple old pieces of sourdough bread, and plenty of chickpeas on hand, so I made this, and wow! Next time I’ll use less salt, but otherwise this was a delicious and healthy dinner. I burned most of the croutons but that was just as well, who needs the carbs. Chickpeas roasted to perfection, and the mild seasoning with cumin and coriander went well with the lemony mayo dressing. I chopped up the leftover roasted cabbage, grated a carrot into it, and put in the fridge for coleslaw for the week.

For dessert, a fat scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with raspberry syrup, my favorite thing today. So simple, so delicious. I’m grateful for eating colors.
I’m grateful for a cloudy day, for mist over the mountains, rabbitbrush suddenly in full bloom, and a soft trail into the woods.The 1.5 inches of rain predicted a few days ago had diminished to half that by midday and keeps falling each time I check the forecast. We’ll be lucky to get a half inch out of this ‘storm.’ But some moisture is better than no moisture in this dire drought.

Zucchini Lunch

Grateful for a small carrot harvest…
…and another big bean harvest…
…grateful for this lovely little jigsaw pepper, with whimsical foliage and fun fruits…
each tiny pepper a burst of smoky heat.
Grateful for a bountiful fennel seed harvest, despite planting them for bulbs. I harvested a few green and tasty to see how well they retain their flavor drying off the plant; there are dozens more drying on the stem. The stalks grew magnificent flowers and seedheads, but I learned the hard way not to wait too long before harvesting bulbs even if they’re small. I got four big bulbs out of more than a dozen plants, and one day I noticed that the bulbs I’d been waiting for to get bigger had started shrinking. Next season, I’ll plant fewer, farther between, and pounce at the right moment.

I’m grateful for the first Boyz Lunch in a month yesterday. All is well and we are reunited on the patio. “Three is good,” said one, but it may as well have been the other. I tried out a zucchini lasagna on them, and even though I thought it was too salty they loved it. I’m grateful that almost every dish I cook for them they rate in the Top Five. This zucchini lasagna was a blend of three recipes I found online. I sliced a large zucchini thinly with a cheese slicer and layered it with a faux-ricotta blend (substituting cream cheese when I found the ricotta had turned pink), last year’s tomato sauce simmered with browned sausage, and shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Three layers deep in the baking dish, with the top layer latticed, a delightful frill.

Sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, then baked for half an hour, it was sizzling delight.

Boyz Lunch on Saturday with sourdough biscuits, then double dessert. I’m grateful for zucchini lunch. I served chocolate zucchini cake with Bello’s frozen cappuccino on the side. “All you have to do is…” he says every time. So simple, so delicious!

And finally, fermenting success! This second batch of hot sauce peppers I packed with room temperature brine, and in four days it was cloudy as it should be, and tiny bubbles rose from the bottom when I swished the jar. Into the fridge with this batch, and I’ll start another tomorrow.

Rainbows

The past week’s hot pepper harvest, ready to roll…
Practicing resilience, gambling, trying another batch of fermented hot sauce. This time, I let the saltwater brine cool down before pouring it over the peppers. The first batch met an ambiguous end. It’s been over a week, and still no bubbles, no cloud; so I poured off the brine, patted the peppers dry, and laid them on a pan in the oven at 275℉ for an hour. I should have left it at that. Instead, I turned it up to 400℉ for 20 minutes to give them a bit of a roast. When the timer went off, I was engrossed in something else, and way too long later I pulled them out of the oven. It’s possible I can salvage them with a pulse in the blender as ‘dark-roasted pepper flakes.’ I tasted one: smoky, salty, hot. We’ll know more later! I will pay more attention to this batch.
I’m grateful for a gorgeous storm that walked in late this afternoon…
…and grateful for this spectacular, fleeting rainbow that greeted me when I went outside to harvest tomatoes. Grateful to be a part of this fragile, precious world.

Paula’s Raspberries

Grateful for attention when I wake up in the morning.
Grateful that Topaz likes to hang out on the fancy patio chair, and that it’s easy to clean.

I’m grateful for Paula’s raspberries: I’m grateful for her friendship, and that she’s invited me to come pick at my leisure in summers past from her gorgeous organic patch. I’ve had a batch in the freezer for a couple of summers that I have picked away at, doling them out judiciously. But it was time to use the last of them all up at once, partly so they wouldn’t go useless and icky and partly to make space in the freezer for the harvest of my own efforts this summer. It occurred to me overnight to make a quick batch of jam with them, so that’s what I did this afternoon. I boiled equal parts raspberries and sugar for about five minutes and scooped out a some to strain for syrup. Then kept boiling the rest for another five minutes, and scooped it into a jar for jam.

I happened to strain the syrup into the martini shaker, which was the most convenient vessel at hand. So once I poured it into a jar I rinsed the shaker with gin and stuck it in the freezer for later. I’m grateful for ‘breakfast for dinner’ tonight, which I haven’t done in a very long time: two pieces of sourdough toast with butter and still-warm raspberry jam, and a raspberry martini with port instead of vermouth. This will not win me any points in my weight-loss challenge. I’m grateful for support in that endeavor, and I swear this will be the last time I eat two pieces of toast and jam for dinner, at least for a long time.

I’m excited and grateful to see the orange jalapeños ripening!
…and I’m grateful for attention at the end of the day, too.

Sweet Peppers

I can probably count on one finger the number of stuffed sweet peppers I’ve eaten in my life til this point. It just never appealed to me. But having my own homegrown crop of gorgeous sweet peppers, and wanting to save some for later, I looked up a few recipes, mixed and matched, and made a batch to freeze.

I used half a package of ground lamb in an insanely delicious eggplant curry this morning, and used the other half this afternoon in the pepper stuffing, along with rice, spices, and some of last year’s tomato sauce. Based on more reading, I cut the peppers lengthwise instead of cutting out the top, filled them with the mixture, and baked under foil. All but one I let cool and wrapped individually for freezing for a quick meal down the line. I topped one with cheese and reheated it tonight. The pepper was tender but still crunchy, the filling full of savory flavor. So simple, so delicious!

I’m grateful for sweet peppers and all the experience of other people who guided me to use them wisely today.

The air was even smokier this morning so we limited ourselves to a short walk. More about breathing tomorrow…

Connections

Evening harvest of peppers. Two red bells (one unripe but wounded), two juicy Blots, five Aji crystals, six Chimayos, and a mess o’ jalapeños. I’m grateful for this spicy abundance from the garden, for the resilience of these plants that I started from the miracle of tiny seeds inside in early spring. Amazing!

I’m grateful for a day filled with loving connections with friends old and new, from down the road to Hawaii to the east coast. I’m grateful for Zoom Cooking with Amy, Instagram Edition. Tonight we opted for simple and quick, and prepared two recipes we’ve seen on Instagram. We started by halving and scoring some small potatoes as the butter melted in a sheetpan in the oven. We grated parmesan and tossed in spices of our choosing, mixed those with the butter in the pan, then pressed the potatoes cut side down onto the yummy goo, and cooked for about half an hour at 425℉.

While the potatoes cooked, we of course mixed our martinis, and then chopped leeks into one-inch lengths, and seared them in butter.

First one side…
…then the other
Then we steamed them in stock for about five minutes, removed the lid, and mixed in some miso (I used red, she used white), tamarind paste, and a splash of Dijon mustard, stirring until the sauce coated the leaks and thickened just a little.
And that was our dinner. So simple, so delicious.
I read to harvest jalapeños by holding the pepper at the base and pushing up: turns out when they’re ready the just pop right off the stalk that way. I checked a few and ended up harvesting a lot. Also read to harvest them often so they’ll keep producing. We’ve got at least a month before first frost, so I’m hoping this huge harvest will result in more by the end of the season.
Since peppers are one of the few veggies that freeze well without being blanched, I halved all the jalapeños, scooped the pith and seeds out, and laid them on a tray to freeze. This way I can grab a handful whenever I want to make some poppers. Apparently you can just load them with filling straight from the freezer and put them right in the oven. We’ll know more later!

Patio

I’m grateful for the patio where I hang out some afternoons in the shade. It’s nothing fancy, but it cools off in the afternoon, and there’s a whole lot of world to participate in when I’m out there. Often I read, so there’s that whole universe opened up by books, right there on the patio. And always, I look up and around often, especially when Wren alerts me to someone else’s presence. She’s so gentle about it. I hear her little body jump up from wherever she’s relaxing nearby, and run a few quiet steps to stand near my chaise, and I look up and follow her gaze. Today she was slowly wagging her curly tail at the Old Doe, who stood looking up from grazing in the flower bed. Beyond her, one of her spotted fawns browsed in the shady grove. Sadly, I saw this same fawn in the yard with her yesterday, but only the one… I worry that the other twin may have fed a lion. Oh well. Everybody’s gotta eat.

I had to chuckle watching this unfold. Biko kept on walking as he always does no matter what’s in front of him, and the Old Doe got out of his way, stepping all the way into the flower bed for him to pass, then stepping out again.
I was too comfortable to get up and go inside to get Husband Camera, so I tried the phone to catch this little hummingbird sipping from Jere’s orchid. Still haven’t cleaned the mud streaks from the picture window, but I’ll get to it one day; I did rinse the melted adobe off the plant leaves. Hanging out on the patio I get to hear the summer music of hummingbirds flying around, finches chirping, jays squawking, hawks soaring overhead, ravens cawing, crickets sawing, wind tickling the leaves of birch and aspen…

My kitchen project today was to begin fermenting the first batch of peppers. Five Aji Crystals, four Chimayos, an orange jalapeño, and the one ripe scorpion. I touched the end cap of one of each flavor to my tongue as I cut them up (wearing gloves), and my tongue tingled for an hour. The scorpion was my favorite, with a very distinct tropically fruity flavor along with its searing heat. And yes, that’s a carrot at the bottom. The recipe calls for garlic and shallots also, but I wanted to use only plants from my garden so I just included this carrot. Maybe I’ll add some garlic into later fermenting jars, and maybe I’ll mix them all together when it comes time to blend the final sauce; or maybe I’ll just make a bunch of different batches. We’ll know more later!

Gardening

I’m so grateful for gardening. It’s a dream come true for me to grow my own food. Even though I don’t grow enough to sustain me and mine for a whole year, I am coming closer each season to putting up enough vegetables to get me through winter into spring–some of them anyway. I’m grateful for the beauty of the garden: the colors, the birds and insects it attracts and nurtures, the shapes and textures, the fleeting fragrances that float on the breeze, the subtle sounds and rhythms. And I’m grateful for the meaning and direction it gives me, and the deep connection to the earth, sky, and seasons.

I had fun this morning laying out the peppers I’ve harvested in the past week to get an idea of what I need to do with which of them when. A couple went right into a stir-fry for lunch, some went into the fridge to wait others which need a few more days ripening before I can start fermenting for hot sauce. Almost all the paprikas got sliced up for the drying rack.

A hearty lunch with all vegetables from the garden except the ginger, sliced chopped and fried with a little Penzey’s Bangkok seasoning and finished with soy sauce and Hoisin sauce, served over Basmati rice and garnished with roasted peanuts. So simple, so delicious!

The Colonel used to tease me when I was a child, saying “You’d eat cardboard if I put honey on it.” I felt that way at lunch today: I’d eat cardboard if I put Hoisin sauce on it. I had hoped to have more leftovers than I ended up with. It was so good I had seconds.

Finding Lost Things

I’m grateful we got to start out the day with a nice walk to the canyon, greeting our old tree friends, and taking stock of more erosion deeper into the woods.
Most of our trails to the rim experienced some transformation, this one with a new rill snaking quite a long way down the center.

What happens when I get a burst of inspiration to tidy up or reorganize is that I always lose something. Awhile ago I did a kitchen project in which I bought a few new shelf and drawer accessories, and really got the pantry and cabinets in order. Not long after that I was searching for the J&M granulated garlic refill that my neighbors produce for their marvelous garlic grinder. I was sure that I had a packet somewhere, but scoured my spice racks and drawers and couldn’t find it. Some weeks after that, I was searching for the Chaat Masala that my cousin had sent me last winter, and I knew that I had done something sensible with it when I reorganized, but it had vanished. It was reminiscent of Breadgate, but I didn’t get quite so attached to finding it. And a week after that–this morning–I opened a little flat drawer in a lower cabinet looking for something else, and voila! There were the missing spices. I had quite logically put the flat spice bags in there instead of trying to cram them into the racks with the bottles and boxes. I’m grateful for finding lost things, and for being able to laugh about it.

In other food news, all the string beans are tapering off production, while the paprika peppers continue to ripen. Lunch was a simple BLT wrap. Wren and Biko each got a green bean, but Biko turned up his beak and Wren ate them both.

And I’m grateful that we got to end this precious day that will never come again with a stroll to the west fence, and view this surprising cloud configuration.

First Salsa

Topaz and a young piñon on our morning walk
I’m so grateful that I could make the first batch of salsa with all the vegetables right out of the garden: two small yellow onions, one Jalapeño Tam, one Leutschauer paprika, and one Blot sweet pepper, plus the three pounds of tomatoes featured yesterday. The recipe called for a couple ounces of tomato paste, and I used two frozen tomato paste ice cubes made last summer. A little salt, garlic, cumin, apple cider and white vinegars, and it was done.

I’m grateful for the joy of canning the first batch of salsa this season. I don’t know where I got the recipe, but I think it’s going to be delicious. Everything worked out so perfectly that I didn’t even get a taste: When I scooped the finished product into hot jars there wasn’t a drop left over.

The recipe called for the chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, and salt to be drained over a bowl for six hours.
After draining, the liquid from the bowl is simmered with two vinegars, tomato paste, and garlic until it thickens a little, five to seven minutes…
…then the vegetables are added and simmered for another 5-7 minutes.
And then the mixture is ladled into hot, sterilized jars and sealed in a hot water bath. Looks like seven perfect seals to me! Normally I put everything on hold as I remove the jars from the bath, so that I can listen for the pops. Tonight I was hosting a meeting at the exact moment the jars were ready, so I cut their time short by a minute and they started popping as soon as I lifted them out. But I dashed around the counter to join the zoom meeting, and couldn’t quite count the gratifying pops as they happened. Yes, gratifying: there is something profoundly satisfying about counting a full set of sealing pops after lifting jars from a canning bath.
I’m grateful to harvest the first leek of the season, and grateful for lots more in the garden bed.

After the meeting I was hungry, and decided to try a quarter recipe of Creamed Leeks and Eggs. It’s intended to be served on thick toast, but I’m trying to cut down on carbs. Ha! Or at least saving them for dessert. And besides, I used the last sourdough sandwich bread yesterday and haven’t baked more yet. So I served it in a bowl. O.M.G. It was so simple, and so delicious!

Leeks simmer in cream, water, salt, and lemon peel slivers until tender, and this mixture is topped with scrambled eggs, parmesan, and black pepper. What a great comfort meal for cooler fall weather.