It is late October and I just looked out into the very dark evening after a somewhat mixed day and I see the crescent moon through the trees. It is a peaceful sight. There is also no wind. It isn’t warm, but it is peaceful. I have just gone out and gotten wood for the fire to keep us warm through the night.
I guess that we can say, officially, that we are headed to winter. That is the thing about living in the maritime northwest. Winter is usually at least two months before and after the winter solstice. Why does winter start then? We have our coldest, wettest weather before AND after that date. I never could understand why winter officially started on the 21st of December. We are long in the throes of winter by then.
I have just finished doing all the tomatoes I am going to do this year. We have been hauling home buckets of them from our farm for processing. I have made zillions of bottles of tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato pickle relish (both red and green), marinara and more. I had two large buckets left to finish today and I am hoping this is the last of it. They do look beautiful sitting on the shelves in the root cellar. We had thirty-eight plants at the farm and another nine here in the greenhouse. They stopped blooming a month ago, and then we just hoped that some ripen, which they did in abundance.
Most of the preserving is finished. The old apple trees, over a hundred years old, are just about ready to pick. They are good keepers if I pick them while they are still in the starch. Seldom do you find apples in the store “in the starch.” If all the starch has turned to sugar, then the apples will start to deteriorate. If they are in the starch, then they have a while to reach their full ripeness. We pick them and they taste wonderful all the way until May. I find that most of the ones I see in the store are already on the pithy side. Many times, here in the northwest, they dump last year’s cold storage apples on us which lack flavor and are already mushy. I love the ones we pick because they are so crisp and crunchy.
I finished freezing the green beans two months ago. The pumpkins I grew this year are the kind that have hulless seeds. I will scrape them out of the pumpkins and clean them and roast them for pepitas for winter. This is the first time I have grown these, so I have no experience with this. Folks tell me that the pumpkin itself is not very tasty. We will see, and if not then the chickens will benefit from their flesh.
We did have a bumper crop of peppers this year. Mostly varieties of sweet peppers. The hot peppers don’t get very hot in our climate as it is generally to cool for those flavors to fully develop. I used a lot of them in the marinara. We did make poppers. I make them by cutting the small peppers in half lengthwise and filling with chorizo and covering with cheese (jack or mozz, but gooey cheese) and then baking in the oven until bubbly. Boy, are these good. You can serve them as appetizers, but we make a meal of them we have so many.
I am truly proud of myself this year as I actually had three gorgeous eggplant. I have harvested two and will go get the last this weekend. I made mousaka with one of them. Homemade ricotta, fresh tomato sauce, garden peppers, a real homegrown treat.
Well, I have ranted enough about the bounty we experienced this season. I need to go damper the wood kitchen range where the tomato sauce bubbled away all day and is now safely cooling in the pressure cooker until morning.
I feel like I accomplished a reasonable harvest this year. Yes, it is peaceful and I am enjoying watching that crescent moon. Now we can bed down for winter.