...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Getting Ready for Fall

Good Morning Lakefront--I've always loved you so 
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
View from the playground
I know it's technically still summer, but I am absolutely loving this taste of cooler, fall-like weather.  Not only is it keeping me motivated to can--perfect weather to turn on the kettle and think about winter creeping closer--but the morning sun has been gorgeous.  We took an early morning walk along the lake last week and I wanted to cry with happiness.

A cold dip before cooking
The beautiful sunshine carried into the weekend as Vera and I headed down to our CSA farm to pick paste tomatoes.  She knows her colors so I told her to only put the reddest fruits into the bucket; it was a bit too late as a few green and "orange" ones snuck in before my instructions set.  We spent Saturday and Sunday canning crushed tomatoes--I have about 2/3 of my 30+ quart par stock put up already this season (found some yellow paste toms at the farmers' market last week which made a gorgeous sunshine-colored sauce.)  We also canned some Pickled Chinese Long Beans, which I'm crazy about both in how the horizontal spirals of beans look on the pantry shelf as well as the brine ingredients--nice and sour with a touch of hot and warm spices.

Chinese long beans
Those are some LOOOOONG beans
Spiraling them into the pint jars
Ready to marinate for a few weeks...
Ready for my close-up

Fairy Tale eggplants
I've been addicted to making the rounds at local farmers' markets lately too.  We usually hit the West Allis Farmers' Market when I need to get fresh produce mid-week for a preserving class.  But last week we went on a whim and I found the most adorable mini eggplants--the variety is called "Fairy Tale."  I couldn't do them justice in the Asian-inspired saute I made to serve over brown rice and red lentils.  I would love to find a recipe to preserve them whole.  What is it about tiny vegetables that makes them so attractive in this way?  Last Thursday Vera and I hit the South Milwaukee Downtown Market where we picked up fresh eggs, the aforementioned Chinese long beans, as well as some perfectly plump locally grown red grapes--and seedless to boot!  V had just been asking for red grapes that day because she found the green ones I'd recently purchased at the co-op to be too "sour" for her taste.  Local red seedless grapes = happy mommy AND toddler.

Local seedless red grapes--perfect snack!

After my comments on the Squash-a-mole recipe last week I bought more oversized summer squash to roast, puree, and freeze.  I am still finding new ways to use this delicious "sauce."

Sauteed Broccoli and Garlic with Squash-a-mole Sauce over Pasta
Serves 4

Broccoli portion of recipe adapted from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles.

Tasty through and through
Prepared Squash-a-mole (1-2 c.)
4 servings Pasta (I used Tinkyada GF Spinach Spaghetti), cooked al dente in highly salted water
1 T. grapeseed oil
4 c. broccoli florets
1 T. minced garlic
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
3 T. water
Salt, to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the broccoli, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until tender-crisp, about 4 min.  Add the water and salt; cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables reach the desired doneness, about 3 min. longer.  Add squash-a-mole and toss to combine.  Serve over warm pasta.

I've been in a list-making mood lately.  I made my fall/winter knitting project list--leaving room for impromptu projects, especially after the stash of gorgeous wool skeins my mom just dropped off from a rummage sale score.  I also made my end-of-season list of what I still want to preserve.  The clock's a tickin' and there's still lots to do.  Hopefully I can take time to enjoy the weather, my daughter, my family, and the garden in the midst of all the hot-water-bath canning.  Though spending the day in the kitchen also makes me very happy--and this weekend as a batch of tomatoes was processing and V was napping, I sat and did a jigsaw puzzle--another one of the simple pleasures in my life.

An hour or two of entertainment for me cost a whole 40-cents

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