It’s that time of year, the time of year when there’s suddenly a dearth of canning jars in my house, when I run out of white vinegar, when my sweetheart comes in each night and looks at another stack of jars and just shakes his head at my propensity to stock up for winter. “We do have supermarkets, you know,” he’ll note.
Yes, yes, I know — but we have all this lovely produce right now, and I have a cookbook review to write this weekend, so I’ve been playing around.
This week I put up eight beautiful (and gigantic) ears of corn we didn’t eat last weekend as a hot corn pickle that I think will be great in quesadillas with black beans. Although my carrots have not performed well in the garden this year, the Hutterite Colony who sells veggies at our farmer’s market had some perfect thin young carrots for the spicy pickled carrots I like in nori rolls. I made a jar of Dorie Greenspan’s delicious cured and marinated salmon — she serves it with boiled potatoes as an appetizer, I tend to eat it on crackers with the spiced yogurt cheese you can see in the tub. I’m sort of back on the cheesemaking, having tried out a very simple fresh cheese from one of the books I’m reviewing for Bookslut this week — it was easy, and came out with a lovely texture, not chalky or rubbery at all. I’ve also been slighlty maniacal about putting up a kind of bathtub gin (in the blue bottle) — basically it’s the best herbs out of my garden, sage, thyme and lots of summer savory with lemon peel, pink peppercorns and coriander seed steeped in cheap vodka. It’s slightly medicinal but a couple of tablespoons in a glass of cheap white wine makes a lovely (and cheap) sort of vermouth-like apertif. I did a batch of garlic cloves pickled with thyme and coriander seed and hot peppers — they’re lovely and I forgot to put them in the photo. I’ve also got a batch of Schezhuan green beans in the hot water bath at the moment.
Part of my mania is simply that it’s that time of year when I feel like if I can preserve as much of the really great produce we’ve got, then I don’t have to eat icky out-of-season produce that has come from god knows where to my supermarket. Part of it is that I have a stack of new cookbooks with some really fabulous ideas in them. And part of it is that my beloved sweetheart doesn’t really like most vegetables, so I’m looking for easy ways that I can add a serving of veggies to my dinner without having to cook a whole separate dish at the last minute. We’ll see how that goes.
And then there’s that part of me that yes, feels much better on a sort of existential level when I can look into my pantry and see that come disaster, we can eat, and eat well, for quite a while. Especially after the 4-H pig we bought after the fair is ready — hams and bacon smoking now over in Big Timber. Pig, veggies, fruits, pasta, lots of grains, dried mushrooms, dried beans — oh, and homemade booze — bring on the snow. We’re almost ready.