Monday, September 8, 2008

The work of late summer

As September begins we face the fact that summer is near its close. We've been working at our late summer tasks - doing those things that need to be done in the dry season. Reed re-stained the south sides of the house and the shed (the southern sides take the brunt of our winter storms) and put a coat of log-stain on the new wood-shed and the balcony. He also swept the chimney (and now that he's safely off of the roof I appreciate the savings of $140 - the cost of hiring someone to do the 15 minute task).

We are awash in apples, with more varieties ripening every day. Tonight I made apple turnovers - yum! We've already canned 15 quarts of apple sauce. We'll do more soon (we give a lot away). Reed froze about eight pies worth of peeled and sliced apples this weekend. We still have many buckets of apples hanging around. We are also drying batch after batch of them. Everyone in our family enjoys dried apple rings in their lunch and they also make good gifts.

Saturday we picked more strawberries from our ever-bearing strawberry plants. I've never seen such plants - they produce the most beautiful and delicious strawberries and have been producing all summer long! We picked enough to make a strawberry shortcake. Samara helped me make the cake and Thomas enjoyed licking the whisk from the whipped cream.

The hazelnuts should be dropping soon. Despite the fact that our trees are suffering terribly from eastern hazelnut blight, based on what we can see on the tree, we anticipate having a surprisingly copious crop of nuts this year. Our walnuts aren't producing much this year, but they tend to be on a two year cycle. We can hope for a better crop next year.

We are also eagerly awaiting our fall crop of chard and broccoli. This is our "freezing" crop - the crop with which we will fill our freezer and so, hopefully, not have to purchase broccoli or frozen spinach (we substitute chard for spinach in many dishes) all winter long.

I, personally, can hardly wait for our "Cinderella"-type pumpkins to ripen. I read a wonderful (it sound wonderful, at least) recipe for pumpkin "soup" that goes something like this...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Take off the "cap" of the pumpkin (as if you were making a jack-o-lantern) and scrape out the pulp and seeds, leaving the flesh
Fill about 2/3 with gruyere cheese, shredded
Add several cups of heavy cream
Add salt and pepper to taste
Replace the cap and bake until the flesh is tender, but before the pumpkin collapses
Serve scoops of the flesh, the cream, and the stringy cheese in bowls

I can hardly wait!

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