Busy Season

It has been a busy few days, so pardon my lack of posting. After harvest and sales at the farmers market, we had a little dinner and listened to live music at Raziel’s, but I couldn’t stay awake long enough to hear more than 3 or 4 acts.

I’d picked another couple of gallons of cherries that day, so the next morning was about processing them before they went bad–they were super-ripe and likely to go downhill fast. After divvying out a couple of quarts for some special friends, I settled in with my new (thanks, H!) cherry pitter and made short work of them.

I had planned on canning some more, but first I wanted to try an experiment involving a 2-quart canning jar, a few cups of cherries, and a good measure of Still 173 dark rum. By the time I got done with that, there just weren’t enough cherries left to warrant heating water in the canner, so I froze a couple bags.

In the meantime, I’ve been roasting and freezing other things, too. I cleaned out and started up the big chest freezer yesterday as well, so now I’ve got to get as much food in there as I can so it will “hold the cold.” Of course, I do have several jugs of water in there to help, but water’s not really what I want to see when I open my freezer.

Last night’s dinner was a melange of roasted veggies served bruschetta-style with some goat cheese and Baker Dad’s fantastic sourdough bread. There was enough left in the pan to freeze a bag of those, too, so back downstairs I went.

On Wednesday, a couple of young guys in a van from Irene were cruising up and down my block, knocking on doors and selling sweet corn. I gave them info on our market (they didn’t end up coming), and I bought three dozen ears, set a big pot of water on to boil, and settled down to shucking (saving a few choice husks for tamale-making).

That corn’s in the freezer now, as are a few bags of one of my new favorite combinations: summer squash and snap beans roasted with sage. I’m picking my squash every couple of days, so they don’t get huge, and I’m picking a few young beans from the sheller rows as I need them.
summer squashesI don’t understand why so many people let their summer squash get so big before they pick them.  It’s understandable if you happen to miss one and it gets to be baseball bat-sized, but unless you’re stuffing them, they are so much tastier, less seedy, and more tender at this small size–not to mention a little more manageable in the kitchen.

Before you tsk-tsk at me for picking my shell beans for snap–let me say that I’m not picking many–a few pounds a week out of 90 row-feet worth of heavily bean-laden trellis.

Judging by the number of beans that are already full-sized and lumpy on the trellises, I could probably keep picking all the young ones and still not be hurting for shellers in the fall.  But, in a couple weeks, my Marvel of Venice romanos will be ready, and then I’ll leave my pretty shellers alone.

As I’ve been checking my squash patch, I’m watching the progress of the winter squash vines carefully.  I always feel like so much could (and often does) go wrong with winter squash from seed to harvest.  This year, it looks like I’ll have some success with a variety I grew for the first time last year.

Neck PumpkinThere are about five or six little Neck Pumpkins on three or four vines. They look small now–like a Tromboncino squash, but these suckers get huge, and their elongated necks are solid deliciousness.

This is the variety that is usually grown for the canned pumpkin you see in the market–not stringy at all, and very sweet–like a butternut.  I was impressed with the fruit itself when I harvested it–after I made awesome pies with it last Thanksgiving, I decided this would join the “must grow” list.

If I do end up with five of these beauties, I’ll probably sell a couple at the market–as much as we like pumpkin pie around here, five Neck Pumpkins is altogether more winter squash than we could eat in a year’s time.

In other busyness, I finally cleaned my fridge this morning before I headed out to the garden.  A jar of grapefruit segments canned in heavy syrup with no ring to keep the lid on (I’m not naming names) somehow got shoved in the back and tipped over. But now my fridge just sparkles!

clean fridgeYou can see that big 2-quart jar of cherries I preserved yesterday behind the Vegenaise. There’s also a pitcher of cherry juice that was a by-product of that project.

This afternoon I spent about three or four hours in the garden pulling weeds (thistles–as usual) in addition to harvesting the summer squash and furtively collecting a few young shell beans to go with them.

I spotted our resident groundhog, who has been eating all the leaves and shoots off the short row of broccoli in the northcentral garden.  So far, he hasn’t caused much other damage, so I’m not feeling the blood-lust I have for the rabbits as yet.

The big project was to get the string-trimmer out and take on the lower part of the bindweed-invested central garden yet again.  The spot between the east and northeast garden also needs mowing, but I can only spend about forty-five minutes on that trimmer before my hands go numb and I’m just done.

Still, the garden is looking much neater for the weed pulling and trimming I did today, and I’ll have plenty more time to take on the weeds tomorrow and in the coming week–especially once I get the final grades in for my second summer class, and I can start calling August my summer vacation.

But now it’s time to clean off the bits of grass and weeds clinging to my clothes and hair and hat, and get myself presentable for family company.  H’s little granddaughter turns one year old today, and we’re going to have a feast in her honor!

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