l-r: Jars of green tomato chutney, and then peach, regular and black bean/corn salsas, in their overexposed glory: Sweat equity in small packages.
***NOTE: Roasted Garlic Jelly and Cranberry Mustard recipes now in the comments! Happy Thanksgiving all.
Now that we’re on the back end of the gardening calendar, I suppose I have to talk about either future or past gardening things. There’s salad and veggies happening outside, of course, and I am sure I will continue to bore you about those kinds of harvests. But recently, and as the calendar dictates, I have begun to raid the pantry for our meals. It’s been an interesting trip, going down this road of harvests past.
Every year I take on a bit more canning. It is a mild madness I have; it’s some kind of packratting/hoarding instinct certainly but it’s also pretty deeply rooted in the love of good old food. I’ve told you before how an assessment of one’s canning season really needs to be taken when you’re done with the season: you will find then what it is you truly shouldn’t have bothered with (beet greens) and what you will never have enough of (many, many things). Well! If I have one thing to share so far this season, it’s that I am really glad I put away a lot of weird things.*
The weekend before last, the child and I went to the butcher’s to pick up our half-pig. (Next weekend it’s time to pick up the cow.) Stuffed, now, in the new freezer is about 100 pounds of various piggy parts, from smoked hocks to jowl strips to back fat to many 3# hams (of which more later). Our first meal was a couple of pan-seared pork chops, and I deglazed the pan with a tiny bit of local sherry and…some of my roasted garlic jelly, making a bit of a sauce. Holy CATS! Tasty! Then Thursday I browned a 3# shoulder and stewed it for the afternoon in the crock pot with green tomato chutney, carrots, celery, garlic and onions. My gosh that went down easy. And there’s leftovers!
Anyway, here’s my lesson. I am not much of an open-a-jar kind of cook, never have been…but, now that I have more than just plain old jams, tomato sauces, and applesauce downstairs, all bets are off. It’s time to get out a jar of homemade madness and see what happens.
*These things aren’t really “weird” so much as they’re a bit beyond the pale of the expected pantry fare. They’re things like salsas, savory jellies, chutneys and mustards (I’m particularly pleased with the roasted pear/apple moutarde and the cranberry mustard downstairs right now: both will be welcome atop leftover turkey on Friday.) We’re not too pickle-happy here but pickled red onions atop a salad is delightful. There’s also stuff I haven’t canned at all, like herb vinegars and sauerkraut too. Yes, it is quite true, I have shoved prepackaged condiments out the door with my quest for all-local, mostly homemade goodies. Nothing beats mayonnaise, or salad dressing, from your birds’ eggs and your own vinegars. Madness, I tell you!