Tag Archive | harvest

Processing Peppers

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Summer’s BLTs melt into autumn’s grilled cheese. One tomato left!

I’ve come to cherish my garden peppers: shishitos, paprika, jalapeño. I’ve grown peppers before because they’re gratifying; easy to start, often prolific, but I haven’t really loved them until this summer. After a couple decades living in the southwest, I finally sometimes crave a bit of heat in my food; I’ve made friends with the jalapeño.

This summer I picked up a jalapeño seedling from Zephyros Farm, and started a dozen shishitos, some of which I traded for 3 Leutschauer paprika peppers that the Bad Dogs started.

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The jalapeño I planted in a patio pot, and it gave me dozens and dozens of bright green peppers through the summer. Grasshoppers hammered its foliage but that seemed to spur it to greater production. I froze three batches of chopped jalapeños in oil in an ice tray, then popped the cubes into freezer bags for cooking. After chopping the first batch without gloves, my fingertips caught fire. Since drinking milk helps with mouth burn, I thought, I soaked them in a splash of cold cream. It did help. And the plant continues to flower and fruit; before the big freeze I brought it into the sunroom, and it’s got half a dozen new peppers already.

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Shishito peppers provided buckets of delectable appetizers, for cocktails with neighbors…

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… or solo. Just a small batch flash-fried (blistered) in olive oil in a hot skillet, then sprinkled with fresh-ground salt, and served with an adult beverage.

I nurtured those little shishito peppers from seeds in a salad box, lovingly watching over their sprouting and first leaves, potting them up, bringing them in every night for weeks, waiting til late June to put them in the raised bed, wrapping them first with walls-o-water, then covering with row cloth. And finally, with trepidation because of the grasshopper infestation, opening their cover to give them full sun. They thrived.

I planted the paprika peppers at the south end of the same bed. They grew almost two feet tall and were covered in fruit which never ripened. I read somewhere that this particular Leutschauer variety ripened to a bright red by the end of August in Ontario, and made the mistake of assuming a shorter season than they actually require. At our altitude, with nights consistently in the 40s by September keeping the soil wet and cold, these peppers will need to be started much earlier next year; I’ll also plant them in pots so I can bring them inside to finish if need be. Apparently nights should remain above 50 for them to turn scarlet.

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The evening before the first deep freeze, I picked a huge bowl of green peppers, taking nearly all the fruits in hopes they’d ripen off the stalk. 

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Only a couple of them turned red. Most remained green, even those with blackened shoulders. 

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Baker Creek support suggested I could try drying them anyway to make paprika powder. The first batch I roasted at 350 for about twenty minutes, turning a few times, then turned the oven down to 200 and dried them for about five hours. After they cooled, I tried to powder them in the food processor, but that didn’t work. The blender did; I pulsed them, then sifted, then pulsed a few times, and made about a quarter cup of paprika powder. Seemed like an awful lot of trouble for what I got, until I tasted it.

Attempting to improve the result, I roasted the next batch at 400 for about 12 minutes, took them out and let the oven cool to 200, and cut out the seed cores before drying the peppers. It took only slightly less time for them to dry, though they were bigger peppers. For the amount of paprika I use in a year, I got plenty, with a decidedly richer flavor than store-bought.

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Roasted, dried green Leutschauer paprika peppers before grinding; kind of a muddy color…

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Two batches of paprika from a summer’s worth of water, TLC, and three pepper plants. Hmmm.

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My kitchen counter at the height of harvest season…. and below, after preserving.

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Green tomato pickles, roasted green tomato salsa, regular red salsa, paprika, and two types of tomato sauce, with a few stragglers in a bowl. Counting the bags of sauce in the freezer, I can have some kind of homegrown tomato treat almost every week til the next crop comes in!

Driving around the valley the past couple of weeks has been spectacular, and achingly poignant. On the way to town the other day, against a backdrop of dark grey raining clouds, the slopes of Saddle Mountain emerged in sunshine a rainbow themselves, yellow and green aspen, orange oak, blue and purple shadows down juniper green hills.

The road down Rodstrom Grade its own cascade of colors, sandstone cliffs frothing with wild clematis seedheads, spent blossoms of rabbit brush lining the road; russet, orange, red serviceberry, squawbush and apricot trees, cottonwoods turning the canyon gold, chartreuse and yellow. Always a chance on this road of bobcat, coyote, lion or bear. I turn on and off the radio as I drive.

In just the past month, this country, this world, has changed so much, multifarious threats escalating. I tune in and out of the “news” a dozen times a day, tracking the next climate chaos disaster: hurricanes, wildfires, famines, human migrations; shuddering at the latest lies and doublespeak from the current regime; weeping at the most recent man-made tragedy; gauging the latest threat of nuclear war.

Like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, we unwittingly adapt to climbing tensions that will ultimately boil us alive; we are crashing toward some unforeseen finale. We might consider ourselves lucky if the Yellowstone supervolcano blows before our democracy does.

Driving home from town, a view never before seen, never this exact amalgamation of earth forms, rain light, autumn palette: Fresh snow on the north end of Mendicant Ridge as mist rises, exposing sunlit slopes through the shadowed gap between Saddle Mountain Lands End. Heavy grey rick-rack clouds lift to reveal a window deep into the West Elk mountains: caught in a beam of sunlight, silhouettes of ranges recede into lighter deeper blues and greys, pale rain falling lightly over layers of gold and deep green aspen-fir slopes. Exquisite wild world, each moment unique.

This is what’s real. This precious watershed, a pawn in the battle for our public lands, our lives and livelihoods that depend on the clean water, clear air, and healthy soil that provide the foods that sustain us. I pack the pantry and the freezer with peppers and tomatoes, and cherish each hazy day.

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The yard begins to give in to winter.

 

Bitter Almonds

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About a quarter of the almonds from the tree this year, blanched, half of those peeled and half waiting.

A bit unsettled still this morning, or again, after another anxiety dream woke me too early.  Ever since I almost killed the cat last week my general anxiety level, which had subsided nicely for awhile, has ratcheted up. I guess the political climate and the potential for fracking in our mountains have also exacerbated it. But the dreams all involve me failing to notice something urgent. Anyway, after taking Ojo in for more subcutaneous fluids this morning I returned and grabbed a bag of frozen almonds out of the freezer. I needed room for some bread, and it suddenly seemed like a meditative food task was in order to calm my mind.

As I cracked and shelled them I let my hands do all the thinking, how best to get each one out of its unique shell: some of them cracking sharply, slip a thumbnail in the crack and pop them apart; some crumbly, requiring fussing. I tasted a few along the way, made sure I didn’t drop any. Some were fat and light-colored and mostly tasted sweet, some were wrinkly and dark and tasted bitter.

I poured boiling water over the bowl to blanch them, and tried to slip the skins off after two minutes. My almonds were small, and either unripe or a little dried out, I don’t know which. Had I picked them too early? Or let them stay too long on the tree? Another two-minute blanch, and most of the skins were coming off easily, mostly from the plump, lighter almonds. The darker nuts did not want to peel.

A few popped right out of my fingers and flew off or across the counter. Those I caught, rinsed if they’d hit the floor, and ate. Even without the skins, the pattern held; most of the darker nuts were bitter, and also some of the lighter ones. I quit peeling the dark nuts. Old or unripe, either way they weren’t worth the trouble. I’ll look this up when I finish this batch, I  thought. When are almonds bitter? Are unripe almonds bitter? I phrased the search question a few ways as I kept popping almonds from their skins. Hmmm. I wonder if bitter almonds are bad for you? And then, slowly, a dark thought unwound itself in my throat. Are almonds toxic to CATS?

But first I looked up the bitter almond question, and was dismayed to find that there are two varieties of almond trees, sweet (Prunus dulsis var. dulsisand bitter (P dulsis var. amara). Bitter almonds are used in almond extract, but can otherwise be toxic. From Wikipedia: Bitter almonds may yield from 4–9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond and contain 42 times higher amounts of cyanide than the trace levels found in sweet almonds.

Now which one do I have? I can’t even remember where I bought it, much less if there was a varietal distinction. Surely I bought an almond tree that produces edible almonds! What nursery would have even sold me a bitter almond? Elsewhere online I had seen that “unripe nuts are bitter.” That must be it. I read on:

All commercially grown almonds sold as food in the United States are of the “sweet” variety. The US Food and Drug Administration reported in 2010 that some fractions of imported sweet almonds were contaminated with bitter almonds. Eating such almonds could result in vertigo and other typical bitter almond (cyanide) poisoning effects.

Oh great. Did I happen to get one of those rare bitter almonds that contaminate the sweet trees? And if they could give me vertigo, what could they do to my cat with the compromised kidneys?

Extract of bitter almond was once used medicinally but even in small doses, effects are severe or lethal, especially in children; the cyanide must be removed before consumption. The acute oral lethal dose of cyanide for adult humans is reported to be 0.5–3.5 mg/kg of body weight (approximately 50 bitter almonds), whereas for children, consuming 5–10 bitter almonds may be fatal.

Well, there’s a kernel of hope in that paragraph; maybe I can process my almonds, that I was so proud to harvest, and spent so many hours hulling and drying and shelling and peeling, and remove the cyanide, just in case there’s actually a toxic amount in them. Really, a disappointing percentage of them taste bitter, maybe just a little bitter, but still. How hard could it be to remove the cyanide?

Reducing the hydrogen cyanide requires crushing the seeds, drying the crushed seed powder into a cake, soaking it in water to break it up and then distilling the product. Yet, just 7.5 milliliters of bitter almond oil has resulted in death.

I’m thinking now that I’ll make a little more room in the freezer. It would be a shame to throw them out, but I could compost them, salvage something at least from my exciting almond harvest. Or could I? What if the cat, or that crazy catahoula, gets in the compost? What if one of them eats an almond off the ground under the tree, where the late splitters are falling one by one?

It is so hard to be as vigilant as I am. How do I balance my brand new anxiety about almonds with my attachments? To the homesteader ideal that caused me to plant the tree in the first place, to all the work I’ve done so far and the prospect of enjoying my homegrown almonds toasted, roasted, slivered, as snacks and garnishes, through the winter; above all to the little compromised kitty?

It may not matter. I’ve eaten about twenty of them this morning. Wikipedia says a lethal dose for an adult is 50 almonds. Another site says “eating 20 of these almonds raw is lethal for adults.” We’ll know more later!

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Wow, almonds sure are labor intensive. Here’s the morning’s project a couple of hours after starting with the frozen almonds in the shell. And now, perhaps, all for naught.

An Opportune Concatenation of Events

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Deborah brought a trugful of apples from her trees…

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… and I got a big bowl full from the Fuji.

I’ll be honest, I have a fraught relationship with apples. At one point I decided they’re more trouble than they’re worth. If you don’t at least slice them, or better yet peel then slice them, and you just eat one out of your hand: you have to bite hard, chew a lot, and the skin inevitably slides up between my teeth and gets stuck, sometimes even slicing my gum.

One day I embarked upon a quest to find an apple that was worth the trouble. After many months of many tastings, I did find one. It became clear that for me the only apple worth eating off the tree is a Fuji. So I bought a tree. And now, that little tree that has struggled with not the best placement, with insufficient protection from deer year after year, with frost at just the wrong time, that little tree by my front gate is feeding me plenty of apples worth eating right off the tree.

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Pamela loaned us this amazing gadget that peels, cores and slices all in one! Apples will never be too much trouble again!

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Meanwhile, the almond tree, who I knew would let me know when it was ready to let go, has let me know.

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Half the tree in a big wooden bowl, the other half so high I’ll need to pick them from the deck or knock them down, my vision for this tree finally come to fruition.

Almonds, broken open or nearly so, losing their green, taking on autumnal hue. Inside leathery fruit already drying in desert winds lies an almond in the shell, some of these already consenting to crack. Inside the tawny shell not quite set, a milky tan or brown-skinned gem… Bitter. Those with the brown skins are bitter, and even some of the skinless ones a little bitter. They will benefit from blanching.

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After husking I lay the nuts out to dry in their shells, and will freeze them shelled or unshelled when I can hear most of them rattle in the shell.

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Rose hips almost ripe and ready to be turned into jelly.

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How many frogs? Through benign neglect of my fish ponds they’ve become frog ponds. I counted a total of seventeen northern leopard frogs in both ponds at once this afternoon, an all-time record.

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Two color morphs of the leopard frog, brown and green, communing at the edge of the pond. Each summer for the past few years I’ve seen a few more frogs. At least in this hazardous world where amphibians are declining at an astonishing rate, my little pond has become a haven for this wonderful native species.

And on a more somber note, with a threadbare segue, a plea for our own endangered haven, both here in our valley and on this fragile, spinning planet as a whole:

These next few weeks create our future, in so many ways. Will we make it be the one we want to see? A future honoring our planet, mother nature, our atmosphere, father sky, brother sun, sister moon? Will we choose reverence for life in a meaningful way before it’s too late?

We don’t often have a concatenation of events that provides us with as much opportunity to influence our future as we have in the next four to six weeks; right now, we have two such opportunities, one on a local level and the other on a global level. We are in a bardo now between great potential for harm and great potential for slamming on the brakes to slow the decimation of Earth.

Until November 1, we have a window to make our voices heard and direct the policy guiding the public lands that surround our valley for the next two to three decades. This is not another one-time fight. What’s at stake this time is the Resource Management Plan (RMP) that will direct the use of public lands surrounding and within our valley for the next 20-30 years.

“Because BLM did not consider new information on earthquakes, human health impact, climate change impact, and environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracturing, injection wells, and ongoing oil and gas operations, along with its inadequate risk analysis, its draft Resource Management Plan is fundamentally flawed.” ~citizensforahealthycommunity.org

We have a singular opportunity with this RMP. Let’s flood the Bureau of Land Management with ten times as many letters as we sent last time, four years ago, when this fight was for a one-time lease sale. Let’s send ten thousand letters, twenty thousand, thirty thousand. We have the chance to say now, in the policy that’s set for the next two generations: NO!

Our local conservation groups have made it so easy to submit comments. The cogent letter is written for you. Fill in a few blanks, add any personal comments, and mail or email your letter today. You can submit as many comments as you like; unlike voting, you’re not limited to one. And you don’t have to live here to take a stand. Please share and share this plea and these links to help save the organic foods capital of Colorado.

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North Fork Valley organic fruit for sale in one of many markets our farmers supply throughout the summer. photos by Cynthia Wilcox

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Though the industry strives to convince us otherwise, there’s a lot of indisputable evidence that fracking fluids are toxic to life, human and otherwise, that the effects of drilling and wastewater injection can spread far from the site, that spills devastate land and water, that transport by pipeline, train or truck can cause massive explosions. The list of deleterious effects goes on and on, from air pollution and habitat destruction (human and other) to induced earthquakes. According to the USGS, induced earthquakes have risen dramatically in the past five years as a result of drilling activities in states including Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

We need to stake our claim to our public lands, our air, our watersheds, and not let them be exploited for profit by a few powerful corporations. We must protect all that is essential to our lives: The sights and sounds and experiences that make life here so precious, the food, the water, the soils that nurture not just human health but whole ecosystem health. We must speak now, loud and clear, spread the word, and enlist the voices of all our neighbors, of our friends and families far and wide, of anyone who has ever lived here or hopes to, of anyone who has ever enjoyed visiting this valley or hopes to, of anyone who enjoys the fruits and meats and wines of this valley.

We can make change if we undertake it at the right time, not so much when the stars align as when good intentions and political schedules coincide; in these few transformational moments what we say and do can actually make a difference. This is the time to make our choices, raise our voices in a way that counts. This is not the time to be resigned.

Portentous Winds of Autumn

Russet tones of autumn emerge first in the Amur maple seedlings, already dried and set with seed. This maple never does as well as the other, on the south side of the house. They’re in different soils, one in native clay and the sad one in more sandy soil. I need to deep water with some extra nutrients.

Russet tones of autumn emerged first last month in the Amur maple samaras, now already dried and set with seed. This maple never does as well as the other, on the south side of the house. They’re in different soils, one in native clay and the sad one in more sandy soil. I need to deep water with some extra nutrients before fall gets away.

I’ve seen first hand how leaving a cluster of peaches on a limb will result in crowded misshapen small fruit, how even two opposite on a stem can smash together and provide haven for earwigs, how too many along a slender limb can bend it to the ground; all the things Fred warned me about as he urged me to thin thin, thin.

I’ve seen first hand how leaving a cluster of peaches on a limb will result in crowded misshapen small fruit, how even two opposite on a stem can smash together and provide haven for earwigs, how too many along a slender limb can bend it to the ground; all the things Fred warned me about as he urged me to thin thin, thin.

Nevertheless, my sweet tree delivered bowl after bowl of delicious peaches, that I gave away, froze, cooked into peach jam, infused into vodka, gin, and brandy, and canned in a special syrup...

Nevertheless, my sweet tree delivered bowl after bowl of delicious peaches, that I gave away, froze, cooked into peach jam, infused into vodka, gin, and brandy, and canned in a special syrup…

Canada Peaches! In a twist on the bourbon peach recipes found online, I packed each half-pint jar with peaches, adding about a tablespoon of maple syrup, then filling with half simple syrup and half Canadian whiskey, before processing in a boiling water bath. I hope these last long enough to eat some mid-winter by a toasty fire.

Canada Peaches! In a twist on the bourbon peach recipes found online, I packed each half-pint jar with peaches, adding about a tablespoon of maple syrup, then filling with half simple syrup and half Canadian whiskey, before processing in a boiling water bath. I hope these last long enough to eat some mid-winter by a toasty fire.

And of course a couple of peach pies.

And of course a couple of peach pies.

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I ate the last fresh peach this morning, and harvested the two remaining apples on the heirloom tree, I’m so sad I can’t recall its name. Are the finches feasting on wild sunflower seeds also marauding the Fuji apple? It doesn’t appear so; the leaves are grasshopper eaten but the fruit is sound, and so much of it, more than ever before, dozens of apples, I’m so happy I thinned them! At least 59 Fuji apples. I’ve got my eagle eye on these, watching for predation by those pesky birds.

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September is like the last hill on the roller coaster. You’re near the top, the wild rush of August harvest has unwound behind you, there is that last push of fall fruits and vegetables to get in before the varmints git ‘em. Rosie has a big squirrel in her garden. I’ve got a stray deer here and there reminding me it’s time to put up fences around trees and shrubs whose protective rings I’ve repurposed on smaller plants throughout the summer. Someone ate two fat cheeks off the biggest tomato of the season; just yesterday I thought that’s about ripe, maybe I should pick it, but it wasn’t ready to let go, and I didn’t come back. This morning’s rising sun highlighted the glistening dips in its flesh when I chanced to glance over from the patio, where I sipped coffee and listened to the raucous sound of morning.

Cynthia led a meditation on sounds last week that’s reminded me to cherish more the wild sounds and deeper silence where I’m blessed to live, like the cacophony of finches in the wild sunflower patch that sprang up on the south side. It’s been years since I’ve lived with a constant musical soundtrack, and for the past several I’ve lived with only intermittent music through the course of my waking day. More and more I find myself eschewing external music, to simply hear, and listen to, the music of nature: birds, crickets, wind, bees, coyotes at night, more coyotes this summer than I have heard in many years.

A great-horned owl has come a courting me. It must be me he woos, because I’ve listened long and faraway and do not hear another. And so I croon back to him a few times, though Stellar doesn’t like it and tries to make me stop, and soon I do stop, because it isn’t fair; I can’t give the owl what it’s looking for. But I sure do enjoy exchanging hoots with it for a few minutes on a clear full-moon night, or any other.

Rain moved through again last night, this time early enough to leave a double rainbow in its wake. I alerted the Bad Dog Ranch that they were centered underneath it. The next day I received a rainbow alert from them. I love this about where we live, that we care about rainbows.

Rain moved through again last night, this time early enough to leave a double rainbow in its wake. I alerted the Bad Dog Ranch that they were centered beneath it. The next day I received a rainbow alert from them. I love this about where we live, that we care about rainbows.

This morning, rain-washed and crisp, the golds of autumn jingle forth. Last Saturday we noticed the first hint of aspen turning up on Mendicant Ridge. By Tuesday the yellows were distinct, and after that storm moved over Wednesday night,  the golds are glowing bright, clearly delineated patches among shades of greens, siennas and ochres, treed and rocky slopes. Air is brisk and the dogs are frisky.

Great cumulus clouds march in close formation lockstep briskly through blue sky, white tops glowing, their grey treads gliding low. It's too spectacular not to walk the frisky dogs up the driveway, where I meet my sweet neighbor and we stroll our rural, precious neighborhood.

Great cumulus clouds march in close formation lockstep briskly through blue sky, white tops glowing, their grey treads gliding low. It’s too spectacular not to walk the frisky dogs up the driveway, where I meet my sweet neighbor and we stroll our rural, precious neighborhood.

Fall blows in on these winds that feel portentous. March winds last longer than they used to, and winter winds start early, in late summer. The breeze sometimes is just a bit too strong; I feel the atmosphere whipping up, winding up all this energy, that later, maybe elsewhere, will unwind with a fury. Ever since I watched the film Melancholia earlier this summer, I’ve viewed this world differently, trusting and allowing myself to sense and feel the changes, the subtle shifts in seasonal events, in their timing, likelihood, or nature. Something is coming, and all I want to do is make jam.

Apricot jam, peach jam, plum jam, chokecherry jelly, salsa hot and mild, and the new house specialty, Canada Peaches. Also plum brandy, peach vodka, plum syrup, plum sauce, pickled beets and cukes, and all the blanched greens, peeled and unpeeled fruits, tomato sauce and peppers in the freezer, let me feel I’ve made the most of the garden this summer.

At the end of the day, though, it’s not about my garden and what I’ve grown and what I’ve put up and what I’ve enjoyed this summer. It’s about what we’ve all tended and grown and loved and eaten and shared and put up for winter, it’s about what we all do in our lives here on this fragile planet. It’s about not just this apple, but all them apples, too! The change that’s in the wind is about me and you, and the choices we make in the next few weeks. To be continued…

Eating August

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Apricots showed up in many festive meals last month, including these appetizers: perfect apricots cut in half, pits replaced with a dollop of softened cream cheese and topped with salted, roasted almonds.

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Another place they showed up was this leg-of-goat roast at the Bad Dog Ranch, in the glaze and in a pan-cooked chutney alongside, courtesy of Chef Gabrielle.

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After making apricot jam, harvesting the garden and raiding the fridge, time for a gin gimlet and fresh vegetable curry over red rice, inspired by a friend’s recipe.

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Sautéed onions and garlic, three kinds of peppers, fresh tomato, and coconut milk simmer on the stove…

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…add zucchini and yellow squash and handfuls of fresh purple and green basil, and simmer til soft and yummy, then serve over rice.

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“Do you call a sandwich with tomato and cheese a tomato sandwich?” asked Ann. Me: “NO! That is a tomato and cheese sandwich. A tomato sandwich is just tomato. And mayo. Lots of mayo.”

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The BLT is another kind of sandwich altogether, not a tomato sandwich. Sometimes you feel like bacon, sometimes you don’t. But thick bacon! How do you make a BLT with thick bacon? It is just too chewy to bite into pieces. I tried first with chunks of thick bacon instead of whole strips.

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And finally solved the dilemma after cooking chopped thick bacon for a pasta sauce. Chop the bacon small and fry til crispy, then add to the sandwich.

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Carrots were ready at last. Not a great harvest, but a lot better than last year. They loved the raised bed with its loamy loose soil, but the grasshoppers got their tops through much of the summer. Mostly good-sized roots, and lots of gorgeous colors.

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One of the many things I love the most about living in the North Fork Valley is the food we share. We share it in gourmet or casual potlucks, dinner parties, and by the bag, box and basket. These perfect tomatoes came from Mary’s kitchen in exchange for a box of plums picked off of Ellie’s tree. We are blessed with a climate that in some years gives us outrageous amounts of fresh fruit, and in most years gives us gems like these. Our valley is the Organic capital of Colorado, and our produce shows up around the state in all the best Farmers’ Markets.

We have the opportunity in the next 56 days to influence the policy that will determine the level of industrial extraction in the wild public lands that surround our valley; those hills and mountains that comprise our watersheds, our views, our recreation, and our thriving and growing economy based on producing the highest quality vegetables, meats, wines, and recreational opportunities. Hunters, fisher-folk, tourists, people who buy the North Fork Valley’s food products around the state and country, anyone who has ever visited this valley or would like to, we need your support. You can start here. More to come.

Happy Harvesting

All the frog activity this spring has resulted in a delightful crop of baby leopard frogs hopping all about the pond for the past month.

All the frog activity this spring has resulted in a delightful crop of baby leopard frogs hopping all about the pond for the past month.

A whirlwind of work, company, and gardening has blown away the last half of summer; a delirium of fresh food has filled the days and evenings. Every day for the past month I’ve happily harvested something from the garden, filling bellies and freezers.

I've gotten into a nice, nurturing routine with the tomatoes, picking a few every morning, then making a sauce once a week or so with the Novas and Costoluto Genovese, enough to eat some and freeze some. And enjoying the cherry-pears and various slicers in scrambletts, sandwiches, and salads.

I’ve gotten into a nice, nurturing routine with the tomatoes, picking a few every morning, then making a sauce once a week or so with the Novas and Costoluto Genovese, enough to eat some and freeze some. And enjoying the cherry-pears and various slicers in scrambletts, sandwiches, and salads.

Oh, and pizza.

Oh, and pizza.

Also frittatas, with Pamela eggs, Stout bacon, and everything else from the garden.

Also frittatas, with Pamela eggs, Stout bacon, and everything else from the garden.

The first tomato sandwich, with bread and butter refrigerator pickles I made with cukes from a neighbor's garden.

The first tomato sandwich, with bread and butter refrigerator pickles I made with cukes from a neighbor’s garden.

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Tomato avocado open-faced sandwich on sun-dried tomato/spinach bread from the Flying Fork Bakery. Yum.

Tomato avocado open-faced sandwich on sun-dried tomato/spinach bread from the Flying Fork Bakery. Yum.

Potatoes went in late and spontaneously this spring, in a clayey bed; I just cut up some organic grocery store potatoes that were past their prime and stuck them in the ground. Despite all the spring rain compacting the soil, and me never seeing the tragic-looking plants flower, the Potato's drive to reproduce gave me a decent little harvest.

Potatoes went in late and spontaneously this spring, in a clayey bed; I just cut up some organic grocery store potatoes that were past their prime and stuck them in the ground. Despite all the spring rain compacting the soil, and me never seeing the tragic-looking plants flower, the Potato’s drive to reproduce gave me a decent little harvest.

Purple velour and golden filet beans planted together in the raised bed gave up beans of both colors for months, providing lots of delicious marinated snacks and several bags for freezing.

Purple velour and golden filet beans planted together in the raised bed gave up beans of both colors for months, providing lots of delicious marinated snacks and several bags for freezing.

One weird looking tomato..

One weird looking tomato..

Bad Dogs' salad with greens and flowers from their garden...

Bad Dogs’ salad with greens and flowers from their garden…

... and a treat from their huge Yukon gold harvest, cheesy goodness.

… and a treat from their huge Yukon gold harvest, cheesy goodness.

Garden delights served with planked salmon...

Garden delights served with planked salmon…

... for just another spectacular summer family dinner.

… for just another spectacular summer family dinner.

After losing so many little melons I was thrilled a few weeks ago to spot this little Tigger melon, so I used some old lathe to protect it!

After losing so many little melons I was thrilled a few weeks ago to spot this little Tigger melon, so I used some old lathe to protect it!

The entire carrot harvest for the year, not one of them more than three inches long. This bed needs serious soil amending before next spring. Just as I suspected, the clay soil compacted so hard that they simply couldn't grow, so...

The entire carrot harvest for the year, not one of them more than three inches long. This bed needs serious soil amending before next spring. Just as I suspected, the clay soil compacted so hard that they simply couldn’t grow, so…

... except for the handful we snacked on, the whole harvest fit into one half-pint jar pickled. Also pickled the whole harvest of Mexican sour gherkins...

… except for the handful we snacked on, the whole harvest fit into one half-pint jar pickled. Also pickled the whole harvest of Mexican sour gherkins…

... for a great martini garnish!

… for a great martini garnish!

The best surprises of the week, a hidden watermelon, Patio Baby variety, hanging from the potted plant...

The best surprises of the week, a hidden watermelon, Patio Baby variety, hanging from the potted plant…

... and an undiscovered Alvaro melon off the edge of the raised bed. Fingers crossed these get to ripen before the rodents get them.

… and an undiscovered Alvaro melon off the edge of the raised bed. Fingers crossed these get to ripen before the rodents get them.

Monsoonal flow continued through August and into early September; only just now are we getting a stretch of warm summer days without rain.

Monsoonal flow continued through August and into early September; only just now are we getting a stretch of warm summer days without rain.

 

 

Ravaged

Carrots leftover in the ground from last fall, the little round French ones, and a couple of small Chantenays. The new carrots have not done well at all because of all the spring rain compacting the clay soil.

Carrots leftover in the ground from last fall, the little round French ones, and a couple of small Chantenays. The new carrots have not done well at all because of all the spring rain compacting the clay soil.

A few fruits and vegetables are finally ripening in this weird summer weather. And as many are being ravaged by beasts.

A sweet surprise yesterday morning, our first Tigger melon!

A sweet surprise yesterday morning, our first Tigger melon!

The Tigger melon vine this evening when I got home from work. Where did the melon go? Who stole it? My only harvest this year may be snapshots...

The Tigger melon vine this evening when I got home from work. Where did the melon go? Who stole it? My only harvest this year may be snapshots…

Who did this to my perfect Alvaro melon? And scratched up the other one? It’s as though a raccoon walked through here. I’m fearful of dearth! If it’s not one varmint it’s another. I no sooner got the grasshoppers under control than some rodent ate my peaches, and now this!

Who did this to my perfect Alvaro melon? And scratched up the other one? It’s as though a raccoon walked through here. I’m fearful of dearth! If it’s not one varmint it’s another. I no sooner got the grasshoppers under control than some rodent ate my peaches, and now this!

A baby snake gourd. Let's hope this one gets the chance to grow up. I've long suspected the grasshoppers were eating the tiny baby melons, but maybe it's been rodents all along.

A baby snake gourd. Let’s hope this one gets the chance to grow up. I’ve long suspected the grasshoppers were eating the tiny baby melons, but maybe it’s been rodents all along.

Purple velour filet beans abundant and ripe, with the monster snake gourd resting on the edge behind them.

Purple velour filet beans abundant and ripe, with the monster snake gourd resting on the edge behind them.

Velour beans picked...

Velour beans picked…

... and sautéed with chanterelles that Gabrielle brought from the forest. Yum. Deb, I saved you some in the freezer.

… and sautéed with chanterelles that Gabrielle brought from the forest. Yum. Deb, I saved you some in the freezer.

Seriously, can anyone tell me what critter left these tooth marks in the melon?

Seriously, can anyone tell me what critter left these tooth marks in the melon?

And some tomatoes too!

And some tomatoes too!

Oh well. I don't mind what happens.

Oh well. I don’t mind what happens.