It happens every year about this time. We start getting a little more daylight and suddenly things I put up months ago, and had no interest in, start appealing to me again.
I have tons of mint in my garden, and all through the growing season (which is long for mint, it’s both hardy and invasive) I usually go out and grab a big handfull to stuff in my morning pot of tea. By the time fall comes around, and the mint gets weedy and starts to die back, I lose interest in mint in my tea. But every year around this time, I’m glad I dried so much, because as the sun begins to come back, I find myself craving a handful of my own mint in my morning tea again. It’s not nearly so good dried as it is fresh, but at this point, it’s all I’ve got.
The same thing seems to happen with pickles. I put up several quarts of pickles — ten or twelve maybe? I just kind of do them all summer as the cucumbers get ripe — I’ll pick for a week or so then do a batch of pickles. It’s never until after Christmas that I’m even remotely interested in eating them, and like clockwork it’s happened again this year. Suddenly those jars of pickles look good — a nice dilly pickle with my lunch sandwich. Yum.
I also made a weird side dish last night from various veggies I had in the freezer — a couple of weeks ago I did a nice dish of sautéed/braised savoy cabbage, carrots, turnips cut in little cubes, and onions. Last night I took a frozen “hockey puck” of chard, and some of the January tomatoes that I’d cooked down in a very slow oven (they weren’t fabulous tomatoes because I’d picked them green in October — they were kind of like my own home-grown winter grocery store tomatoes but without the food miles, pesticides, etc), and some of the leftover cabbage mixture and heated them all together. It was like a hot salad — and it was really yummy — with a little antelope and “Chinese sauce” (equal parts light soy sauce, Siracha, black vinegar, ketchup and sesame oil mixed together in a little jar) over rice it was a nice dinner.
I’ve gone through a lot of the plums and cherries I put up last year, but because I can’t bear to let good fruit go to waste, I also froze several bags of both when I got worn out by canning. I made a delicious sort of Asian pork with plums the other day — pork shoulder browned then braised with lots of onions, garlic, chiles, ginger, plums, soy sauce and about a pint of tomato sauce thrown in late. It’s kind of Asian, kind of barbecue-y, and in chunks over some rice with green onions, cilantro, some sesame oil and a little of the Siracha sauce in the jar (not the squeeze bottle one that’s smooth, the other one that is a little chunky) it was great. Hot and sweet and warm on a cold winter night.
Because it’s still the dead of winter here. We’re getting more sunlight, which is terrific, but it’s cold and snowy and we’re having the first real winter in years. Which makes me doubly glad for the food I put up last summer. When the wind is blowing 40 miles per hour (which it does here a lot) knowing I can just shop my freezer is really fabulous.