Sunday, 13 September 2015

Getting Ready

Husband and I are going on a little trip. We will only be gone a few days but I didn't want my mom to worry about covering my tomatoes if it freezes, so I picked the big ones with my little helper the other day. I roasted the ripe ones down into a sauce with some garlic, peppers and onions and froze it.

I am so sad to say that my cucumbers didn't produce this year. I have only had a handful of my own cucumbers. The first planting either froze or didn't germinate in the hot dry weather (I thought some came up but they immediately disappeared. Did they get eaten? I suspect a late frost) At any rate, my second planting was too little, too late, and I am paying for it now. Events like this really help me prioritize for next year: one of our favorite things over the holidays is to crack open some pickles from the garden when we have company. Whether it is pickled carrots, beets or, my favorite, bread and butter pickles with sausage and cheese and crackers, it is a treat that we will really miss this year. I did a couple pints of beets already (did anyone know that sheep love beets? We turned our girls out to graze the other day and they ate the beet tops AND the tops off half my beets!). Since I only managed to grow a handful of carrots despite a second planting, I will probably only do up a quart or two of dilled carrots (the carrots given to us by our neighbour and my aunt). SIGH. Once again, I am grateful that my family does not count on my gardening skills for their survival.

When we return from our little getaway I will begin my season of preserving and cleaning up the garden. Every year I vow to plant more onions and, although I did this year, I think we just ate more and thus there will be no extras leftover for winter. Our neighbour sent over a nice assortment of things from his garden and the size of his onions made me giggle--If I ever grow onions that big I will officially call myself a gardener.

At the moment I am making a half-batch of million dollar relish from Jean Pare's Company's Coming Preserves (this book is a Western Canadian favorite and one that you would probably find in most farm kitchens). The cucumbers we got from the neighbour were large for pickling and we won't get them ate before we go--a half batch is actually just right to get us through the winter and next summer's burger/hotdog season.

Excuse the glare on the cover of the book! I am never comfortable sharing someone else's recipe unless it is in such an obscure old book or handed down by family...I recommend anyone interested in preserving watch for this book and purchase it. You will get your money's worth. The recipes are no-nonsense and tested by thousands of farm women year after year. I am skeptical of some recipes found online (Pinterest!) and when it comes to preserves I think it wise to stick to reliable, published and safe recipes for you and your family.

There isn't much garden produce left to deal with before we go. I better enjoy my time to relax because I will be returning to a basement full of ripening tomatoes and the salsa making will begin!