Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dahling I Love You, But Give Me Park Avenue

Okay, so I am not Zsa Zsa Gabor (Thank Goodness!), but, these days, I am starting to feel a bit like her character on Green Acres.

My Loyal Readers know how proud I am of my husband's garden and how happy I am for him that his new hobby is bringing him great satisfaction. Look at him! He is so happy and proud !

When the first little harvests of spinach came in, I was as enthusiastic as he was. Then, came our beautiful lettuces and some radishes. Some rinsing and bagging was all that was required.

But now, between us free-range chickens, the novelty is starting to wear off. Reality, that pesky little character, is on the scene. As more vegetables become ready to pick, we have more than we can eat, of course. The plan was, and still is, to preserve what we could not eat right away for post season enjoyment. Most produce is best frozen, so I have been reading up on the correct methods for it. In my imagination - my stupid imagination - I could do this freezing at my leisure, say on a weekend afternoon when I have nothing better to do besides avoid playing Pokemon with my Pokemon Obsessed Child.

Hah! The reality is that I'll be here minding my own business, deep into a project of my own and my farming husband will just come into the kitchen with a bucket of peas or five heads of cauliflower, or broccoli that should be frozen sometime very (VERY) soon. Because I am a good wife (and a former food scientist who knows the value of freezing the food immediately after harvesting), I spring into action. More accurately, I first curse a couple of times under my breath and huff and puff a bit just to passively aggressively inform my husband what a burden it is to stop whatever I am doing. Then, I spring into action, getting out pots and pans and strainers and ice baths and freezer bags and drinking straws. Yes, drinking straws. I am not convinced that we need to spend over a hundred bucks on a vacuum packer, so I do my own little vacuum packaging. It isn't pretty to watch - I imagine I look like someone on a crack pipe - but I figure getting at least some of the air out of the freezer bag ought to help.

The basic freezing method is that you peel, shell or trim whatever you are going to freeze. After washing the vegetables in question, you drop them - by sort of smallish batches - into a pot of boiling water. You leave your batch in for as long as specified for that particular vegetable - ninety seconds to three minutes for most - and then plunge the vegetables into an ice water batch. I don't know why one must plunge, but that is what the instructions always say. Plunge. So, plunge I do.

After drying out the veggies a bit, they are ready to be bagged and frozen. And, there you have it.

Here are some photos for those produce lovers among you:

Just to ensure that I spend as much time in the kitchen as possible these days, I decided to buy eight pounds of sour cherries at the Farmer's Market last weekend. My intention was to make some sour cherry jam. I did indeed make the jam, in two batches because after hand pitting four of the pounds, I had had it. I estimate that there are about 100 cherries per pound. I did purchase a handy pitter, but still, it was a drag, or in more pleasant parlance, a labor of love. Here are some photos of the process, complete with the picture of the truly special and amazing finished product. The cherries were so fragrant with a floral aroma that my hands smelled like a flower shop for the rest of the day. That fragrant note was carried through to the jam, making it well worth the effort. Unfortunately, four pounds of cherries (or four hundred pitting motions) yields only four half pints of jam. But, as long as I keep a bit for tasting just before next year's cherry season, I know I will be motivated to do it all over again. In fact, that is how I got motivated to make the second batch this year. I opened up a jar and reminded myself how good it is.


Anonymous said...

Yum! You're definitely not in Fairfield County any more, Zsa Zsa.

Anonymous said...

That is some beautiful produce. My garden is not doing so well this year. But last year I had extra produce, and since I have no patience for canning or freezing I took it over to Mother Hubbard's Cupboard. So instead of extra produce in the freezer I laid in some good karma. They always seemed so happy to see me coming with my kale.

Anonymous said...

Oh vey, I'd rather clean toliets.