My experiments with tomato tarts are over. Tomatoes are officially finished for the year. At the Saturday Market Denison Farm had a basket of mostly unripe pale ghosts of what I recognize as tomatoes. It’s over. As much as I love tomatoes I am not sad. Everything has its season and I’m so happy that the temperatures have dropped. My house got down to 55° this week. My mom usually can’t take such low temps in the house but she must be getting used to it because I offered to turn the heat on (we haven’t done so this season yet) and she said she was fine. Keeping the heat down will be important in budgeting now that we’re back to paying our mortgage and hoping to keep the house. I can’t even remember if I mentioned here that we got approved for a trial period with the HAMP loan. People can be refused it even after paying their mortgage perfectly on time for the whole trial period, so nothing is certain. But what’s new? Nothing has been certain for a long time for us.
Big splurge in my house was buying a bunch more wire bail hermetically sealing glass storage jars for my pantry and cleaning my whole pantry out. We had a major pest infestation and I had to throw a bunch of grains and old stuff out as well as wipe down all the shelves and clean out jars. Doing this always feels so good! We are buying more and more in bulk so it’s important to have a good way to store it all. We do have food-grade plastic buckets for the huge quantities of legumes we have in the garage. I hate using any plastic but I can’t see a better way yet for those. But here in the cupboard the air-tight glass jars are the only way to go for us. Because I can’t afford to have ALL things stored in them I do have a number of screw-top jars in use.
My Elephant Heart plum tree lost a huge branch. we have yet to prune it and deal with it. It makes me so sad. However, I’m hoping that with a great pruning we can encourage it to survive this setback.
I finally finished canning. I did. I finished this past Tuesday with making quince “cheese”. The project is a bit dubious, I have no idea if it turned out. I have to wait a few weeks before opening my jars and trying it. The recipe was actually British and called for using glycerin to coat the inside of the jars so that the quince can be removed more easily and sealing them with wax. I am inexperienced in this and didn’t have paraffin on hand so I processed them in a canner which made coating in glycerin a waste. If I like the taste of the quince cheese then I will go the traditional route next year and use wax and glycerin.
I was done with my canning. I really was. The grape syrup was a bust. It gelled but not completely so I re-boiled it and it was ruined. It lost all grape flavor and became boiled fruit flavor. Not my favorite. I tossed it. Ah well, these things happen. It’s part of the preserving learning curve. The apple sauce, at least, was simple and I canned quite a few pints of it. I don’t even eat much of it but I do love it on savory pancakes with sour cream (latkes or zucchini fritters) so it’s nice to have some on hand.
I was done with preserving and cooking in serious bulk until yesterday when my friend Andre had a bag of tomatilloes he couldn’t do anything with and gave them to me. Suddenly I have tomatillo salsa to make. I’m not crying. Not really. I love tomatillo salsa. So I’ll be making that this week.
Food budgeting is beginning. My first trick is to not shop during the week. Unless it’s something specifically for Max. I will not indulge in the habit I have of suddenly wanting to make something I don’t have the ingredients for and running out to buy them. I am shopping on Saturday for the week and will simply have to make food with what I buy. No spontaneous purchases. Next I will work at limiting some of the expensive things I buy like cheese. Coffee too. If we run out mid week, no buying another bag. I’ve got lots of tea to drink in it’s place. I’m not depressed this time (the year before last was super hard and really depressing). We have plenty to eat. Max’s food is the biggest concern because of his picky eating, but cooking on a budget for the adults is not going to be difficult if I get creative. We have tons of bulk and after this very busy preserving season I have stuffed the shelves with jars of home canned goods and the freezer with good things. We are already very fortunate and rich with good things to eat.
I also have a great huge stash of walnuts from a dear friend of mine and this makes me feel secure like a squirrel with a full tree trunk. I look forward to cracking them. My OCD makes this kind of work extremely satisfying and then I’ll freeze the nuts so that no bugs or bug eggs can survive. Sounds distressing, I know. However, I know from experience that these things linger in all real food and sometimes freezing is the best way to deal with them. I’m going to have so many walnuts to use!
Today I’m going to make chocolate zucchini bread from Clotilde Dusoulier’s book of the same name. I’ve never tried it before but I’m hoping the kid might enjoy it. (It’s actually “cake” but has less sugar in it than most zucchini bread recipes do). To that end I must dash off and get dressed and clean the kitchen. What could be better than baking on a rainy stormy day?
I hope you are all enjoying your Sunday and keeping warm inside.