A Weekend (mostly) in the Kitchen

Tom and I spent most of the weekend working through the produce available in the garden. We eat something fresh every day (often more than once), but we have more than we can eat and we don't want it to go to waste. Frankly I wish we had more tomatoes to preserve, but meanwhile I'm preserving all the extras I have. Today I made a couple of quarts of crushed tomatoes. This is a messy job, and rather than just showing you the beautiful result, I wanted you to see the spattered counters, the many pots on the stove, in short not just the product but the process.

most of my drought-starved tomatoes are tiny,
which makes for a lot of fiddly cutting. Note that I
have to use a pasta fork as a slotted spoon, because
I broke my slotted spoon.

blanched tomatoes, waiting in ice to be peeled
a juice-splattered counter; one bowl of peelings and seeds
for the chickens, one bowl of tomato 'meat'

canning uses a lot of pots and a lot of water; we save it all
and take it out to the yard and water potted plants
The end product is indeed beautiful
I also took down the hot peppers that the kids and I strung about a month ago. They've been hanging on the canning shelf ever since; some of the serranos turned red, some of the padrons turned orange, and everything is drier - however not everything is dry enough, and when I put it in the blender, I don't want to make a paste, I want to make pepper flakes. So I spread it all out to dry on a towel outside, and that should take care of any lingering moisture.

Pretty, aren't they?

Tom worked on making homemade cultured butter. Last night he warmed cream on the stove, added mesophilic culture, then let it sit on the counter overnight. This morning it was the consistency of yogurt and he put it in the fridge.

At night after it was in the fridge all day

Tonight he churned the cream in our food processor. It was fun to watch it go from thick cream to butter + buttermilk.

This buttermilk will be used for pancakes tomorrow morning.

Tom also pickled jalepenos....

... a process which made us sneeze and cough, no matter where we were in the house, for a couple of hours.

I picked yet another huge batch of basil, put some in the chicken's nesting boxes, and made the rest into pesto. We have more pesto than we'll ever eat (I think) in the freezer.

There's still plenty of basil in the garden, which I think I will now let bloom for the bees. We have basil in several places so there's enough for random tomato dishes (we use a lot of fresh basil in tomato salads and sauce).

Speaking of flowering, the buckwheat cover crop I put in a few weeks ago is starting to bud.

And we're starting to get mini-pumpkins forming!

Although remember when I sprayed a vinegar solution on the leaves to kill the powdery mildew? Well, I killed the mildew. I also killed the leaves.

The cantaloupes look closer to harvest...

And some of the sunflowers are finally opening.

Chocolate Cherry Sunflower
Since we've got the day free tomorrow, I've got lots of projects lined up. I need to rake the chicken coop, turn the compost, cut the water sprouts off the apple tree, pull out the watermelon vines and sow buckwheat in that bed, and harvest green beans (an every-other-day chore). Oh yes and look for cucumbers hiding under leaves. And maybe trim up some unwieldy plants. Glorious!