Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Garlic, Pickles, Pesto and - Raspberries?

Today I puttered about picking cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, peas - all the usual, and then I got inspired. Mike loves it when I get inspired. Today I was inspired for Mike to make pickles, pesto and raspberry cheesecake with some of the things I picked.

We have everything we need right now for pickles. Mike likes to add lots of different colors in each jar, so it is rarely just our cucumbers, dill and garlic. Today we also did purple and yellow beans, carrots, chili peppers and jalapeno peppers in each of the three jars.  To get to three jars, I typically pick some cucumbers throughout the week, and every ten days or so in full production, we have enough for pickles.  I keep the picked cucumbers in the fridge between canning inspiration, but I am careful to make sure they are not washed or damp so they keep better as they wait to be canned. 

I found picking the garlic today interesting. I had never grown garlic successfully, and I am still not sure it was quite ready. I read a Canadian garlic site  from Boundary Garlic Farm, and learned that when you are on the second loop of the scape you can harvest the garlic. Mine also had seed pouches called bulbils. Next year if I cut those off, the plant will spend more time making the bulb bigger according to everything I read, and the Saskatchewan government emphasizes the importance of this in Northern climates.  I think I'll plant quite a bit more garlic this fall, as it seems to be doing well and we eat a lot of it during the year.

I cut back the greenhouse basil, which yielded a two picking baskets of basil. I had to plant it in February for it to have 4 leaves a plant by March 20th, when I transplanted the seedlings into little pots. It is a lot effort to get a big enough crop in Saskatchewan, but Mike loves it so much that we always plant lots. It always makes me happy when I pick a lot in July and August. Today we made four times our regular amount of pesto, so we used 4 cups of loosely packed basil leaves and froze the rest. We'll freeze small containers of pesto for use throughout the year.

For lunch we had the leftover sushi (roles and scattered) from last night, along with some spring rolls, cherries and sugar snap peas. I love eating this time of year because everything tastes so great out of the garden and it is so nice to be picking and cooking together. The food is healthy and not fattening (except for the cheesecakes like the raspberry one Mike is making right now).

We had picked some raspberries before lunch and  I froze 12 cups of raspberries in small ziplocs.  Anna asked what the best method is.  As Mike mentioned to her, traditionally, raspberries are frozen individually on a tray. This way each berry keeps it's shape, and they don't stick together as much in the bag.  I used to do this, but when you thaw the berry, it always becomes mushy. Plus, I inevitably turn it into a sauce or blend it into something. Mike and I concluded about 5 years ago that freezing each berry is way too much work. Now we put about 2 cups in each ziploc, as that is the amount we usually use when cooking. It doesn't mater if they stick together, because you are defrosting the whole bag.

It has been a fun day with our produce, but I think I am not feeling inspired for Mike to do some dry walling to prep for my painting, so I think my growing related inspiration is coming to an end.

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