Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall Productions

It's been a short summer; we're already deep into fall, and I don't know where it all went. Three more weeks until November? Say it ain't so!!! But when I look at what I have been creating with my own two little paws over the past six weeks, I guess you could say it's been a productive season for me. So, this is a relatively short blog entry as I'll mostly be recording, for posterity, a few hand-made creations that define the season. 
Starting at the top, about 3 weeks ago, we picked our first carrot from our garden. It was lovely:

The rest of our carrots since then have been these two- to three-pronged genetic mutants. They taste good but look really weird. I can deal with that. What both Bruce and I can barely deal with, though, is looking at the plethora--dozens upon dozens--of green tomatoes on the vine, knowing every day is one day closer until THE FIRST FREEZE.

Which happened about two weeks before we thought it would. That means it happened this past week, the first week of October. We were given plenty of weather warnings. Mentally I wasn't ready, but I had to suck it up. Mother Nature waits for no one.

Here are our tomatoes outnumbering our
Co-op squash and garlic
First, it was time to pick most of our crop. Cucumbers, squash, green beans, and the most ripe tomatoes had to be harvested. Here is a sampling of just some of the tomatoes we got before the freeze, and yes, we left dozens of greenies on the vine. Frustrated and a bit chagrined, we knew that after this freezing storm system passed, it was going to warm back up to the balmy seventies. So, we only picked the ripest tomatoes, hoping to squeak by the predicted three nights of below-freezing temperatures by wrapping our green lovelies in blankets, sheets, and tarps. 

With more cukes, squash, and green beans, I went through the canning process again, making 12 more pints of dilly beans, 12 half-pints of zucchini relish, and this time, 12 QUARTS (not pints!) of pickles. Here is my second batch of canned goods, and I thank my friend and neighbor Julie (Sky Island Woman) for helping me out this time. I think I did my mother-in-law proud:

In the meantime during evenings and the few minutes I could capture on weekends, I also spent time knitting and crocheting, eventually making a crocheted cotton shawl:

And, with the varied green yarn I dyed this past summer (entry here), a smaller triangular lace scarf:

Then, we waited for the freeze. Three nights ago it got down to 25 degrees. The results of wrapping, tarping, and blanketing our tomatoes (and our lettuce) were mixed. The lettuce was fine. Some tops of the tomato plants froze, some tomatoes got freezer-skin, but others looked okay. It scared me enough to realize I had to pick as many green tomatoes as possible. What does one do with several pounds of green tomatoes? I know you can let them ripen by boxing them up and leaving them in a cool, dry place, but that just didn't appeal to me.

Off to the web to find some green tomato recipes, preferably for canning. Score! Green tomato salsa verde. I merged a few recipes together, and came up with mine:

Sue's Green Tomato Salsa Verde

"X" pounds of green tomatoes (I'm guessing 3 to 4?), cored and sliced into quarters; it filled a large mixing bowl
"Y" green chiles, probably about 8 medium to large chiles
A few cans of store-bought green chiles to add
One small can of diced jalapenos
2 onions, chopped
2 heads (not cloves, use alot!!!) garlic
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
Cumin to taste
Salt to taste
3/4-Cup lime juice
1/4-Cup lemon juice
1/3 C. white sugar
1/4 C. or a bit less brown sugar
1/2 C. white distilled vinegar

Place cored, quartered tomatoes on a baking sheet, cut-side up. Spray with oil, and roast for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Cut and de-seed the green chiles, lay cut side down (skin side up), and broil for several minutes until skin is blackened. When the chiles cool a bit, peel the skin off. Prep the cilantro, peel a bunch of garlic, and peel the skin/ends off the onion and chop into large segments.

Using a food processor, process onions, garlic, roasted tomatoes, cilantro, and chiles until you're happy with the consistency. Place in a large bowl. I didn't think I had enough chiles, and my fresh ones were pretty mild, so I added three cans of diced green chiles and one small can of jalapenos (both store bought). Add cumin, salt, lime and lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar and stir well. Taste and add seasonings as you see fit. Set over stove, bring to a boil, and cook a few minutes as you prepare your canning jars. Fill jars, secure the lids, and boil in a water bath for 20 minutes.

There are still more green tomatoes on the vine. In a few days, I'll pick another batch, and this time I'll be making "Green Tomato Chutney" with apples, raisins, ginger, and some spices. I'll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, preparations for winter begin. Summer clothes get moved to the back of the closet, winter ones to the front. Hats, mittens, and scarves are moved to front and center in our coat closet. My next knitting projects are determined: I think I'll start my first sweater, and I need to finish a hat and some mittens from last year. The pellet stove gets turned on and warms our house in the mornings and evenings. My corn bags (if you know what a corn bag is, you know how great they are) are pulled out and are microwaved nightly to heat my bed.

This is all on top of the re-model going on in this house. A new garage is being built, and the old garage, pantry, and laundry area will be transformed into a new pantry, an enclosed laundry area, and a third bedroom complete with new bathroom and a place to corral all my crafty goodies (yarn, beads, and oh, so much more). Days of packing, moving stuff, cleaning things out, and general chaos will be in store for us very, very soon. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You amaze me!!! Hope that you are bringing some of your green tomato salsa verde to Gal's Weekend:) Sal Hood