R & R

1 pound 9.1 ounce beefsteak tomato
This Beefsteak Tomato was grown in my raised bed. It is the largest harvested so far. They are delicious tomatoes, but of course I cannot keep up with eating all that are grown. So into the pot they go, for Tomato Sauce, or Pizza Sauce. There are many more out there in the garden, and if we don’t get a frost we might harvest an even bigger tomato!

The first week of September has been a busy one.

Attila and I seldom go out for entertainment, it has been years since we attended a Van Gogh exhibition in Ottawa, I think that was the last time we spent our resources on something that would be considered “entertainment”.

And yet, we are entertained.

Our life entertains us. Sometimes this is a very quiet, slow affair. Other times it is intensely engaging. September has been intensely engaging.

It began with purchase of a half bushel of Red Shepherd Peppers at a local grocery store. These come up for sale once a year, around this time of year. Last year I made Tomato Red Pepper Sauce with them, there are only two jars left of the 44 I canned last September.

This September I roasted the Red Shepherd Peppers, and oh my they are good. I froze the roasted peppers. It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

The very next day I canned 4 500-ml jars of Cherry Bomb Tomatoes, and 4 1 liter jars of Tomato Sauce, using garden tomatoes. As well Attila and I diced and blanched two purchased bunches of celery, which we froze. Then I canned 4 250-ml jars of fresh peach syrup, with purchased peaches, which is wonderful over ice cream.

When we ordered heirloom seeds from Baker Creek, they sent us a bonus package of seeds Purple Russian Tomatoes. I wasn’t too keen, purple tomatoes didn’t really seem appealing. But wow, what a flavour, I love them. We won’t get many, as only one seedling made it to maturity. A mouse got into the cold frame and destroyed many of the seedling plants, but one Purple Russian Tomato plant survived, and I am so glad!

Yesterday I experimented with a new recipe for pizza sauce, using our garden tomatoes. On Friday we made a pizza, the sauce got a two thumbs up, wonderful stuff. So when another big basket of garden tomatoes were ripe and needed to be processed, I made a larger batch of pizza sauce. It simmers on the stove-top all day, reducing in volume, increasing in flavour. I froze 8 containers of Pizza Sauce, and there will be more to come if the garden keeps producing tomatoes.

Today, well today I thought we would begin to wind down. I was wrong. More garden goodies came out of the garden. I canned 2 3/4 500-ml jars of Zucchini Relish, and 2 500 ml jars of Sweet Cucumber Pickles. I have to say the English Cucumbers, that Attila is growing in the garden this year, are delicious, so much nicer than store bought.

I can in small batches, because that is the volume of produce that comes in fresh from the garden. At the back are my jars of Zucchini Relish. The front row of jars are my Sweet Cucumber Pickles, and the bowl holds collected Nasturtium seeds, for planting next spring. Oh yes, and the gnarly little seed clump at the bottom of the image is from the Peony plant in the front yard.

When I finished the canning, Attila and I blanched and froze three 2-cup bags of Scarlet Runner Beans. Then we diced, blanched, and froze two bunches of purchased celery. Then we shredded, blanched, and froze six bags of cabbage, for Borscht this winter.

Two cabbages, shredded, blanched, and bagged. They are ready to go into the freezer. Each bag in one pound of cabbage, just the right amount for one recipe of Borscht. We already have frozen beets from another year, and will be freezing some beets from Attila’s garden. More fun to come.

Why would be buying things like peppers, celery, and cabbage, to preserve. Well, these are grown seasonally in Canada, and if we want to eat local products this winter, we will have to buy them now, when they are fresh from Ontario farms. The other advantage in doing this is that we capture that freshness, and prefer the food we preserve to what is on offer at the grocery store over the winter, as it comes out of commercial storage units.

The rest is from our garden, definitely seasonal. It is harvest season, and we are putting food by for the winter months when nothing grows in our garden, or on the land in Canada. In the winter greenhouse produce is all that is available that is local, the rest comes out of storage. We are thrilled to have our produce to preserve, and feel extremely lucky to have the space for a garden, the time to garden, the materials to garden, and the health to garden. It is mostly Attila who does the gardening though, he has worked hard all spring and summer to provide us with this bounty. My modest two raised beds did provide lots of food, spinach, beets, peas, strawberries, peppers and tomatoes. The second planting in my raised bed may or may not yield, the outcome is weather dependent. But if the the fates allow my raised bed will be providing us with green beans and cucumbers. Fingers crossed.

So that is what we do for rest and relaxation. Kinda weird I guess, but it makes us happy. And we really do enjoy the “fruits” of our labour all winter long.

Worldly

Weather

16°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Sunday 8 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 16.4°C
Dew point: 10.8°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: N 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause;
He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes and keeps his self-made laws.”
Sir Richard Francis Burton
1821 – 1890

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6 Responses to R & R

  1. WendyNC says:

    Maggie, I just want to come eat at your house. All this fresh and preserved stuff is so wonderful. I have pantry envy.

  2. Wendy, wouldn’t that be fun. We love our food, that is for sure. Pantry envy, too funny!

  3. Bex says:

    I seriously think you and Attila should have your own show on tv. “Living Off Our Plot of Land” or something. That 1 lb. 9 oz. tomato is totally crazy-nuts! We had 3 tomatoes off our 2 tomato plants. There is one still growing out there and maybe another tiny one but they are hard and green still. And THAT was our whole crop!

    But “The Purple Russian” — this is either the title of a WWII spy novel or the name of a newly designed, very purple colorway, hat!

  4. Bex, I have a hard time getting Attila into a photograph, let alone recorded on video! He is not comfortable with attention, while I, quite obviously in this blog, am not averse to a little bit of attention. I think about videos though, a lot, because I think they would be fun.
    When I tried a balcony garden at the country house it was a flop, I think we got two tomatoes. The raised beds are similar but the soil that went into them was a mix of our soil, our compost, and manure, and I added soil amendments, ground egg shells for the most part. The other element of the success is that Attila waters the garden every day that it does not rain, a lot of work, but he is quite content out there puttering about every evening, it relaxes him. Quite frankly, I am totally shocked at the amount of produce coming out of the gardens!
    Can’t wait to see that hat!

  5. Teri says:

    Purple Russian tomatoes sound interesting and tasty. I’ve never heard of that one before.

    You two have definitely been busy. Sounds like you’ll have good eating this winter!

  6. Teri, the Purple Russian Tomatoes are very low acid, and sweet, I love them, Attila, he likes acidic things so he isn’t as keen. They are an heirloom variety that I had not heard of before. I am really looking forward to cooking with all of these things we are putting by! And of course, eating it too, lol.