On listening to the harvest

You certainly don’t need it, but this laser-operated heat gun is a nice thing to have. 

It’s another In-Between Sunday.  Sundays are my busiest:  four of my six CSA subscribers get their deliveries on Monday, the Loven is firing, and there (as ever) seems to be a lot that needs harvesting and processing.

It’s a full-on sensory experience, the weekend harvesting and cooking.  The smells and sights are sometimes taken for granted.  Other things, though, require the ears, and some actually require a bit of sensory deprivation.

So I stand at the butcher block, goggled eyes and gloved hands separating about 20 red serrano peppers from their seeds and membranes.  Today I’m making this year’s hot sauce.  This year, it has peaches in it, because, well, why not?
I stand, listening to Harry Shearer, and think about how much busier I will be next weekend.  I haven’t sat down all day and it’s 4:30 in the afternoon:  it’s, in other words, a fairly typical Sunday for me.  Next week, though, the apples and the grapes will be ready.  I need to put the little crops away like all this hot sauce.  There won’t be time when the juicing and the cidering and the saucing starts.

We grow in pairs (Asiminia triloba)

Little crops:  it was a bit of a surprise, but our pawpaw trees are producing fruit!  Never heard of a pawpaw?  More of us should grow them.  I lovingly took our one ripe fruit to a group event yesterday, passed out some of the creamy flesh, then promptly ate the rest of it myself.  Supposedly they take about 14 years to fruit but ours have been in the ground for only 5.  Black blossoms graced its midsection this spring; I held little hope.  Don’t doubt a native tree, I guess.  We harvested three Hass avocado-sized pawpaws this year.  I can’t begin to tell you how lovely this one fruit was.  They should be more widely cultivated, though I can see why they are not:  the beautiful seeds took up most of the cavity.

As I sit listening to Shearer’s weekly outrages, I am listening to the Loven’s fire crackle.  Five loaves are rising in their pans:  I am thankful it’s cool, slowing their expansion, because the wood is taking a long time to burn down.  There’s not much you can do to hurry that wood, though my husband has stuck a small fan in front of the open oven door.  It happens on occasion, but sometimes the loaves fall before the oven is ready.  Sigh.

I also listen to the Close-Enough Cassoulet bubbling in its pot.  Six types of nearly-dry beans got harvested from the garden early this morning, making a trip in the cast-iron pot with bacon ends and onions/garlic and bundle of fines herbes.  Now it’s almost time to drop in the chicken legs and locally produced Mettwurst.  I set it on the stove to a light boil:  this Dutch oven will get topped with breadcrumbs and stuck into the Loven for our dinner.  It will go in the back, behind the loaves, with dinner’s two baguettes hogging the front section.  It’s a nearly empty oven.  Two pans of tomatoes are waiting to take their overnight turn.  Even if it’s not too busy, it’s still a good day.

Pre-bubbling cassoulet, fallen loaves, and overexposed sourdough baguettes.  Awfully hot to actually adjust a camera, I must say.

13 responses to “On listening to the harvest

  1. El, what hot sauce recipe do you like?

    • H2, I winged it. I took the recipe found in my Ball blue book and thought it sounded good but not terribly interesting, so I added one of my pints of canned peaches. The original recipe called for about 1/3rd of the peppers. So…it’s hot alright. I could’ve used a respirator while it was cooking, hooboy! Sorry that’s not too exact. I find it’s best to keep tasting along the way until it tastes good eonugh…

  2. I agree with you 100% on non-contact thermometers. They aren’t in any way required, but once you have one, you find a million uses for them. When I make pancakes, if I want to, I can scan the griddle directly instead of relying on the “drops of water” trick. I usually just use water, but if I want to be precise, I can. I also use the non-contact thermometer to check the temperature of my wood stove and avoid overfiring it.

    The laser aiming dot also makes a great cat toy in a pinch.

  3. I found the type of wood you use makes quite a difference in getting the temperature up quickly. Our ‘hardest’ wood available is fir, the harder the wood the higher the BTU’s. We chop it small for kindling and to really get things going fast, I keep kindling the fire awhile before I add an actual fuel log. Pine cones are another short but hot burn. I love cooking with wood but the toughest part was learning to regulate the temperature AND every stove is different. With whatever imperfections you see, that picture of your dinner looks fantastic to me and it warms my heart!

  4. These loven posts always make me covetous.

  5. That was absolutely lovely, El. I’ve been in love with peppers, and pears. I grilled hundreds of peppers the other day, pasillas and hungarian wax, and little so and sos and a couple of sweet ones, then just chopped some of them with salt and cold water, and the rest I froze. It was a very zen afternoon::: all peppers. The sunflowers stood sentry. I have some concord grapes — very sweet — that I’m going to ferment. Any suggestions?

  6. Did you ever call my brother about wine?

  7. I love it that you grow pawpaw’s. My husband and I have been discussing growing them too! Where did you purchase your trees?

  8. Its so amazing how much is going on this time of year–besides in our gardens, there’s a big dance of bugs and birds and critters getting ready for winter too. Sometimes its hard to know what to focus on–I feel like I’m trying to absorb everything to store up for the dark season, there is so much color and scent and sound that won’t be here much longer!

  9. H2, hope my nonanswer was helpful. I guess with anything that I can (or cook even) I do a lot of tasting as I go along. In the case of this hot sauce, though, I kind of burned my tongue fairly frequently…

    Joshua, hah! Cat toys. I don’t know why we spend any money at all on cat toys: they always find something else to play with, like milk rings or balls of paper. And yeah it’s my husband who got me the thing: he figured I would geek out with it. I don’t. But it is helpful in telling me how long I need to leave the bread in there (in this instance, about 20 minutes).

    Aw Pam thanks! Yeah, the principle with these masonry ovens is fill it with quickly-burning wood (small diameter, scrap stuff) and then fire it up to get it as hot as fast as you can. Burn it all down, scrape out the coals, then let it equalize by putting the door on and shutting it up for an hour or so…then it’s time to bake. Cooking in a woodstove I would imagine is way different, as is just trying to keep a fire lit! So many skillz!

    Diana, put it on your to-do list 🙂

    Sharon, peppers! I grew mainly bells and hot ones this year…didn’t do my Italian roasters at all and I miss them, mainly because NOTHING is turning red yet. Grr. But your afternoon sounds delightful, especially with nodding shower-head-y sunflowers hanging over you. And as far as the grapes go, see today’s post! Trying to make wine again…also, there was a delightful looking focaccia recipe in the NYTimes this weekend…with concord grapes.

    Jules, nope. Sigh.

    Brenda, hope you go get some!!

    Sara, well at least you have the camp chairs in the greenhouse now. Just think: you’ll be spending LOTS of time in there, reflecting what you’re seeing now.

  10. Yes, well, that concord grape focaccia in the Times? You have to seed the little tiny grapes to use them. Each grape has at least 3 seeds all mushed up into a mucillaginous center, and I cannot imagine seeding them. They are delicious, one by little one, though.

    • Oh who has that kind of patience!! Maybe I just didn’t notice it in the recipe instructions. Either way it looked pretty good. And: I tend to just eat my seeds.

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