Cooking and Creativity
I admit that I am not that fond of cooking and most of the time, my cooking is pretty basic. My specialty is what we have left in the fridge. Luckily, my husband finds that cooking relaxes him and he is very talented cook and baker, skills that he learned from both his Mom and Dad. I am more than happy to assist him with my assignments (usually decor, salads, cleaning up and, occasionally, desserts).
The exception to my kitchen avoidance is doing preserves. When it time for putting up the harvest, or processing foraged finds well that is completely my territory. And, while I am still not a big fan of chopping, dicing or peeling, it is somehow entirely different when I think of it as part of my efforts at sustainable living. We are in prime preserve season so, this week, my creative time and energy was spent in the kitchen.
Last week, a friend called to tell me that she had lots of crabapples I wanted to come and pick them. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I frequently make apple jelly as we have several apple trees on our property. they do not produce great apples for snaking or baking but they are perfect for jelly or butter. However, I have never tried crabapple as I didn’t have a source. Until now.
I grabbed a couple of trugs and my fruit picking stick (Lee Valley Fruit Picker). Turned out I didn’t need that as the trees are quite small AND she had the base of an old treehouse in one of them so I could clamber right up to reach the higher fruit. As a bonus, I was able to enjoy a spectacular view of the lake while I worked. And the breeze kept the bugs down. What a delightful way to spend some time.
Lots of apples for the picking
One full trug (about 70 minutes to pick)
A total of just over 12.5 lbs (about 5.6 kg)
Turned out to be just the right amount to fill my juicer (lucky guess).
The juicer is a game-changer. Much easier than chopping, boiling and dripping through a cheese cloth.
After two hours, all the juice is steamed out and what is left is wonderful for the compost bin – or for apple butter.
2.5 L (11 C) of beautiful juice.
Straight out of the hot water bath – love the colour!
Two batches of gorgeous jelly (14 pints / 250ml Jars) = plus, in the back, one not-quite-full tester AND the skimmed foam, which is delicious on toast or ice-cream (and, it turns out, perfect with pork).
Tomatoes produced really well this season. I had 18 different varieties and most did well with fruit production so we were lucky enough to have fresh tomato over several weeks. Lots of toasted tomato sandwiches and BLTs. We’ve especially enjoyed the bowl of cherry tomatoes for snacking. I have also have done two full dehydrator trays of tomato (enough for two 500 ml jars). There are still lots to preserve.
This week, I harvested more than 8 pounds of tomatoes plus, sweet pepper, onion and garlic. I bought some jalapeno peppers and peaches at the local farmers’ market to add to our own harvest for a large batch of salsa.
Some of our tomato varieties in a dish for snacking.
8 lbs (about 3.5 kg) tomatoes blanched and peeled, ready to chop.
All chopped and ready to start simmering.
All photos by the author, M.E.O’Toole.