30 August 2013

August Goals + Pepper Preservation

This week has proven harvest season to be in full swing.  August is all about time management.  I found myself expending the energy to make blueberry muffins this month (this recipe, in muffin form), and then bringing them to work as a mid-morning snack.  I was eating them, even though I wasn’t hungry, and they aren’t particularly healthy.  That feels a lot like poor time management.  Lately, if it doesn’t comprise a meal, it probably isn’t worth my time.  (Let’s look at this month’s recipes for a hot minute – one giant casserole to last all week, and two desserts.  Time management what?)
I keep thinking back to my 2013 goal to live more simply.  Harvest season was a big part of that goal, because while I’m loving these fresh tomatoes and peppers, it is only during harvest season that I regularly find myself on my feet in the kitchen from the time I get out of work to the time I pass out in bed, too exhausted to even find the time or energy to make dinner.  Balance.  This week has been lacking it. 
That brings us to this month’s goals.  August confession:  some months, I don’t really choose goals.  They look like goals, but in reality, they are things that are GOING to happen and it takes zero effort on my part.  Wine tasting?  That was already on the books.  Wedding?  Ditto, I just had to get there.  Harvesting and preserving?  It’s August, enough said.  Recipes?  This is a FOOD BLOG!  Cleaning the apartment…okay, you’ve got me there.  But guess which one was the only one that didn’t happen…

August goals:
  • A wine tour of some Traverse City wineries – a great day, and a great way to enjoy time with friends and nice weather!
  • A cousin’s wedding – not only did we make it to the wedding, we did so amongst a weekend of camping.  Don’t worry, we stopped at my brother’s house for showers before we went!
  • More harvesting and preserving – let’s see if I can remember all we did…blueberries – frozen, peaches – frozen AND canned, peppers – frozen, tomatoes – frozen AND canned, elderberries – (collected, de-stemmed,) juiced and canned (and then started wine with!), cucumbers – pickled, zucchini – froze a small amount, 27 ears of corn blanched and frozen, basil – pesto-ed and frozen.  Now that I write it all down, I feel a lot better about my “time management” issues.  A HUGE thanks to my uncle (gifted me with some sweet corn!), my mother (elderberries wouldn’t happen without you!), my father (waters the garden like every day!) and my husband (constantly turning mountains into molehills!).  EDIT:  I knew I'd forget something - we also hulled a couple quarts of dry beans.  Pic below.
  • More recipes – check out this squash/zucchini bake, double chocolate brownies from scratch, and lime yogurt cake with huckleberries.
  • Deep cleaning of the apartment – uh…I thought about it several times, and put several related items on my to-do list.  They are still sitting on the to-do list, untouched.
I feel wildly accomplished, looking at that list of preserved foods.  Home-grown tomatoes in the middle of winter!  Fresh-tasting basil for the cold months!  Corn and peppers to add to all fall soups!  August embodies the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  If all this food preservation doesn’t kill me, then all these home-grown, naturally grown, heirloom foods can spend all winter making me stronger!
I believe these beans are the Jacob's Cattle variety - a Prince Edward Island heirloom.  Very pretty.
And as far as my 2013 goal of living simply, I feel that I’m thriving this year rather than barely surviving like I did last year.  It may not be simple, exactly, but I’m still living well.  Last year I was getting crushed by all the things on my to-do list, whereas this year I’ve been taking care of business.  There’s still a good portion of my to-do list that doesn’t get done, but so far all the time-sensitive matters have been handled.
September goals to come next week, along with some fantastic recipe yet to be determined.  In the meantime, enjoy some photos from my month and a quick guide to preserving peppers.  Starting with this tree on my way to work - do not adjust your monitors, those leaves are really tinged with orange (PS, don't take photos while you're driving.  It's dangerous.  I was at a stop sign.  Here's proof:).
We went to a pupuseria to try some traditional El Salvadorian food!
Camping: this tent is almost the size of my apartment.  Perfect for blocking off the campsite for your own private, cozy camping.

And a quick guide to preserving peppers!

This doesn't get its own post because peppers are sooooo easy.  No blanching required.  Chop and freeze!
I like to make little packages out of plastic wrap so that I can just grab a package and put it in soup or something.  Peppers don't regain their crunch after thawing, so soup is pretty much all I use them for.  However, they would be fine for use in stirfry and casseroles.
So great for summers like this when I've got peppers coming out my ears!  And they don't freeze too hard, so it's pretty easy to chop them, even straight out of the freezer.  These are good for a few months in the freezer.

Okay, so I know that's a lot to read, which is why I'm saving September goals for next week!


  1. Thanks for the quick preserving/freezing tip! I'm overloaded w/peppers and it's just too hot and humid for me to can/pickle them.

    1. I know! Every time I go out to the garden I find another three or four peppers, and this is such an easy way to save them for later.