This time of year reminds me of the fable about the ant and grasshopper--the ant works hard all summer to store food for the cold months while the grasshopper plays and wonders why the ant toils away. In the depths of winter the grasshopper has no food and shows up at the ants' door begging for a handout. Obviously, times are not quite like this now, but thinking about this story gives me motivation for putting up all the local food that we do during the growing season. Some days I wish I could be more like the grasshopper and just hang out while it's warm. I do that, but not enough. My backyard lounge chair lacks the permanent imprint I was hoping to achieve this summer. But there's still time! Though these chillier days of fall make me want to forget about tending my pots of annuals and think about cleaning up the garden for winter "hibernation," I know there are still gorgeous days ahead, hopefully an Indian summer, and lots of relaxing on cool evenings.
|Our first juicy canteloupe|
|Milling out the seeds and skins from the apples|
|Mild tomato salsa|
While I'm discussing canning, I want to share some new lids I've been using this year thanks to a lead from a colleague and former preserving student. You may have heard that regular canning lids contain Bisphenol-A (BPA). Even organically produced canned vegetables can contain this potential neurotoxin in their linings. Another plus for home canning. Tattler brand produces BPA-free canning lids and the best part is that they're reusable. They make it slightly trickier to identify a sealed jar, but I've had no problem adjusting. I recommend stocking up; consider it overhead in your canning process. So far they're only available online, but maybe if we talk them up at our local grocery or co-op they'll start carrying them.
|Elderberries w/ plain yogurt, fresh pear sauce|
|Unidentified wild black fruits|
|Another breath of life for a 3rd generation sock|
I'd like to share a few recipes that we've tried this week as I work on managing the fridge contents, once again. Soon the only veggies in the refrigerator will be all our winter storage--roots, tubers, onions, squash, etc. so I should savor the abundance we'll have for a few weeks.
Spicy Vegetable Curry
Adapted from One Pot.
1 medium eggplant
8 oz. kohlrabi
12 oz. potatoes
8 oz. broccoli
8 oz. button mushrooms
1 large onion
6 T. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 t. finely chopped fresh gingerroot
1-2 fresh green chiles, seeded and chopped
1 T. paprika
2 t. ground coriander
1 T. mild or medium curry powder
2 c. vegetable stock
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 T. cornstarch
2/3 c. coconut milk
2-3 T. ground almonds (almond meal)
Fresh cilantro sprigs, to garnish
Freshly cooked rice, to serve
Plain yogurt (my favorite garnish)
Cut eggplant, kohlrabi, and potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Divide broccoli into small florets. Button mushrooms can be used whole or sliced thickly. Slice onion and carrots. Heat butter in a large pan. Add onion, kohlrabi, potatoes, and broccoli and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 3 min. Add garlic, gingerroot, chiles, paprika, ground coriander, and curry powder and cook, stirring, 1 min. Add stock, tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms and season with salt. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 min. or until tender. Add bell pepper and carrots, cover, and cook another 5 min.
Place cornstarch and coconut milk in a bowl, mix into smooth paste, and stir into vegetable mixture. Add ground almonds and simmer, stirring constantly for 2 min. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer to serving plates, garnish with cilantro sprigs, and serve immediately with rice.
This next recipe is great for Eat Local Challenge week because it not only uses local vegetables, but locally produced protein. I prefer Simple Soyman tofu, made here in Milwaukee. We used broccoli and scallions from our garden along with locally grown mushrooms.
Stir-Fried Sesame Broccoli
Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
1 lb. firm tofu packed in water, drained
1 lb. or more broccoli
1/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 T. soy sauce
4 t. toasted sesame oil
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
5 t. light sesame or grapeseed oil
1 1/2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 scallions, including greens, sliced diagonally
2 T. mirin or 1 1/2 T. light brown sugar
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds
12 oz. asian noodles, cooked
Set tofu in a colander, put a heavy object on top and set aside. Blanch broccoli and green beans for about 4 min., put into ice water bath for a few minutes then drain. Remove tofu from under weight and slice into 3/4-inch cubes. Put in a glass pie plate and toss with 2 T. soy sauce, 2 t. toasted sesame oil. When you're ready to eat, heat a wok or wide skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 t. light sesame oil. When hot, add tofu. Cook, without stirring until it begins to color, after a few min. Turn the pieces to brown on all sides. Add any remaining marinade from pie plate to glaze tofu, season with salt and set aside. Rinse skillet. Heat rest of light sesame oil. Add ginger, garlic, and scallions and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add mushrooms. Cook 2-3 min., then add broccoli, green beans, and tofu. Combine remaining soy sauce with mirin and pour it over vegetables. When heated through, toss with toasted sesame seeds, drizzle with rest of the dark sesame oil, and serve over noodles.
I just found out last week that my parents will be joining us for Thanksgiving this year. I'm so excited to cook dinner for the third year in a row. I'm really getting the hang of brining and roasting the bird. Speaking of which, if you want an organic heritage turkey, JenEhr Family Farm is taking orders now so they no how many birds to put on for the holiday. They offer pickup at the West Allis Farmers' Market as well as at their farm in Sun Prairie, WI near Madison. Order your turkey today!