Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spaced Out

It's mid-October, and not only is the farmers' market winding down, but so am I. I've been quite the busy little squirrel this summer and fall, buying lots of good produce at the market and then bringing it home to freeze, can, dry, pickle, and otherwise stash it all away.

You've heard plenty about my activities, I'm sure, so I'll let the pictures speak (almost) for themselves as a round-up of the preservation season.

The pile of jars in my bedroom: grape juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, jam, and pickles. Yes, those are bottles of wine sticking out from under my dresser... it's the best place for a wine "cellar" in a small loft!

More jars: pickles, jams, honey and maple syrup from the farmers' market, chutney, more salsa, and who know what else? Whew!

Longer-term storage in the pantry closet: garlic, onions, potatoes, squash.

No more room in the freezer!: spaghetti sauce, juice, frozen vegetables, croissant dough, salsa, breaded eggplant...

...and jam, more frozen vegetables and fruits, pesto, local butter for holiday baking, and more!

Though that all looks like a lot, it's small potatoes compared to what some people do. I know the Archivist has talked a lot lately about major projects: quarts and quarts of tomatoes, tomato sauce, grape juice, pickles, relishes, and more canned goods than I can fathom. (She and her husband have a five-acre "farm" that produces a lot of food!)

Other folks online have been talking about food preservation, too, and since I've been too busy to comment on them as they've come up, I've "preserved" them for this later date:

--Is tomato red or pickle green the new black? Who knew that canning was "cool"? According to the NY Daily News, it is... and who am I to argue?

--Sharon and Miranda, co-founders of the Riot for Austerity (a year-long plan to reduce personal carbon emissions an astounding 90%... impressive!), have posted a good bit about their own preservation efforts, including:
--One of the other methods for preserving fruit -- in alcohol -- is one I didn't do this year, though I have in the past. For more on that, read these pieces:
--And if you're thinking you might want to jump on the canning bandwagon next year and want to get further inspiration, Barbara at Tigers and Strawberries offers detailed procedures for pressure canning (most of which holds for water-bath canners, too), and Sam at Becks & Posh has a humorous take on what not to do.

As for me, I'm pretty much out of space for more canned and frozen goods, and it's about time, too. I am exhausted. Canning can be fun and enormously satisfying, but it is not for the faint of heart and limb. It takes time, and it takes energy, and it can really put a damper on the rest of your life's plans. I spent a lot of hours in the kitchen this summer and fall, and while I can wholeheartedly say it was worth it, right now I need some serious rest.

On top of that, life has been happening in a big way of late, and the added stress (much of it good, I must add) is wearing me down.

So I'm going to take a brief vacation from cooking and blogging about food... just a week or two, no more, I promise. I need a complete break for my own sanity before I leap into fall baking and soup-making, not to mention the steadily-approaching spected of Holiday Baking (which threatens to spiral out of control yet again this year, much to the delight of my friends).

Don't worry, though. I have plenty of food-related activities planned for the next week and a half, and I'll be back with tales of those adventures and (I hope!) new recipes. In the meantime, have a bit of a browse in the archives, stay up to date on food news at the Ethicurean, or treat yourself to some great local food at a nearby restaurant or your own kitchen.

And when next we meet, be sure you bring your apron or a napkin... there's serious cooking to be done!


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