These photos display the last three shares from our CSA, plus the results of my trip out into the field on “open field” day. I found some lovely small red and green cabbages, a couple of little fennel bulbs, Japanese eggplant, a bunch of Swiss chard, a bunch of beet greens, and some stealth cilantro growing between rows of salad greens. I picked some green Roma tomatoes to allow to ripen on the kitchen counter (they’re about halfway there now). We end the growing season with plenty of onions, potatoes, and winter squashes to last many weeks, as well as more kale and chile peppers for the freezer. The cabbages and a bulb of kohlrabi will keep in the downstairs refrigerator drawer for weeks as well, just like a root cellar.
The vegetable we always miss the most during the long winter is tomatoes, so I make an effort to have some around. In past years I have canned many pints of chopped tomatoes, but this year I didn’t have the time and energy to devote to that, so I purchased 10 pounds of Granadero Roma tomatoes from a local farm, roasted them, and packed them in freezer bags. I did this last year too, and they were fantastic in soups and sauces.
In addition, I made the most remarkable tomato jam. The recipe is in America’s Test Kitchen’s DIY Cookbook, and its flavor is exactly what I hoped for in a tomato jam. Not overly sweet, still quite tomato-y, savory and a bit spicy. It will be the perfect tomato replacement in wintertime BLTs, if it lasts that long. I really can’t recommend that cookbook strongly enough. Every recipe I have tried so far has been easy and full, full, full of flavor.
Now that my weekly cooking isn’t tied to our CSA shares, menu planning gets easier, and more difficult at the same time. I have more flexibility because I can pick and choose which vegetables to use, but it means I have to make the decision as to what vegetables to use. Sometimes it’s nice to just open the refrigerator and have a load of vegetables already there to play with, rather than cruising the produce section at the grocery store in a fog of indecision mixed with a lack of enthusiasm.
The stars of this young autumn season are apples, winter squashes, and pumpkins. I have already amassed a small stockpile of butternut squash, and have begun picking up sugar pumpkins at the farmstands. This weekend the three of us will be making our annual trip to a local apple orchard, to pick three bags full of apples, to eat all winter long. You really haven’t eaten an apple until you’ve eaten it just picked off the tree. If tomatoes are the taste of summer, apples are the quintessential taste of fall; sweet, crisp, and refreshing like a fall morning’s walk, but also warm, spicy and cozy like late autumn nights by the fire.
If you have the chance, get out and pick some apples, and I’ll see you soon somewhere on down the Road.