Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Summer unofficially ends today, with the holiday, and since I had the day off work...

Wait. I'd better rephrase that.

Since I had the day off from my place of employment, I planned to fill the day with thoroughly enjoyable activities and a little bit of a treat for myself.

Now at the end of the day, I can tell you that I'm thoroughly exhausted from everything I've done, and when I'm not sagging into the cushions, ready to nod off, a contented smile slips across my face.

So what, you might ask, filled my day so pleasantly? Did I go anywhere special, do anything out of the ordinary -- what??

Perhaps it would be better if I just show you:


Welcome to my Eat Local Challenge Labor Day Baking and Preserving Extravaganza! (Yeah, I know, not exactly catchy.)

I started off the day (dark and early as usual) by making pizza sauce from the recipe the Perky Coffee Lady gave me -- 5 pints' worth. Since I had skinned and strained the tomatoes the day before, it wasn't as difficult as it sounds. I also pureed onion, garlic, and hot peppers (on the left) and froze 1/2 c portions for using in curries later; sliced, breaded, and baked eggplant for eggplant parmigiana come winter; and baked a loaf of pumpkin bread.

I managed to wrap that all up by about 9:30, leaving me enough time to dash off for my massage appointment (much needed at that point). And after I returned home and enjoyed a bit of lunch, I started work again:


I strained and simmered the grape juice and decided to can it (4 pints' worth) as my freezer is getting full. I also made a simple syrup infused with lemon basil (center bottle) for use in lemonade and iced tea as well as in the rustic ground cherry bars seen in the foreground.

Once the bars came out of the oven, I headed up to the hospital to meet My Dear Papa and to visit with a very groggy Chef Mother following her surgery this morning.

After that, I knew I really only needed to focus on dinner, and by that point, I decided to keep it simple:


I settled on a composed salad of nasturtium leaves, green grapes, fresh mozzarella (not local), golden pear tomatoes, roasted beets -- most of which was drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper and lemon basil -- and a slice of the neighborhood bakery's house bread. Very local, very easy, and very tasty!

I'm headed back to work -- er, to the office -- tomorrow, knowing that I still have a couple of projects undone.

But at least on this Labor Day, I enjoyed the work that filled my day.

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