Saturday, September 22, 2018

Ode to Summer Bounty

I know that today is technically the first day of Autumn, but I want to give a final wistful appreciation for some of the glorious bounty I grew, received as a gift, and found at the market this summer. Over the years, I've come to genuinely appreciate all seasons... but there's just no time like summer. Especially when it come to produce! 


Here are some special goodies I got my grubby little paws on this summer: 

FIGS
My auntie grows the most AMAZING figs in her garden. Figs are one of my very favorite foods of all time ever, and these figs are extra special for two reasons 1) they come from the garden of someone I love a whole lot, and 2) they are huge and perfect and beautiful and delicious! They are emerald green on the outside, and then they are an amazing brilliant red color on the inside. I loved these figgies and I wish I was eating them again right now! 


BLENHEIM APRICOTS
One of my beloved yoga students gifted me a box of Blenheim apricots, which she had just picked that very morning. Dear reader. These were so delicious and this was such a special gift. Have you ever had a Blenheim apricot? Especially a perfectly ripe one, fresh off the tree? Seriously, it is one of the best things that you can ever eat.

When I was growing up, we had an old apricot tree in our backyard, and every other summer it would produce an incredible bounty of apricots - which we would eat with abandon, make jam with, and generally enjoy heartily. That tree was very old, and it died a long time ago. A truly fresh apricot is quite elusive... and this box of orange beauties took me straight back in time to those summers eating apricots in the driveway. So sweet. 


SMOOSHY NECTARINES

I go to the farmers market with religious devotion, two times a week, all year round. Naturally, I have a few farmers who are my favorites. At the Wednesday market, there's a farm that sells fruit all year long (citrus in the winter, stone fruits in the summer, and a handful of other goodies). They are SUCH nice guys. Earlier this summer, I was buying some peaches from them, and they were like "Oh hey, would you like some super-soft nectarines that are too soft for us to sell?" and I was like "YES." They *gave* me these two huge bags full of super smooshy peaches and nectarines!!!


I put some of the nectarines to use straight away with some nectarine jam! I used this recipe from the interwebz... and then I added a little dash of fresh grated ginger at the end. This was my first time doing anything special with jam - like adding ginger. I'm generally a bit of a purist on this front, but not this time! The spirit voices told me to add ginger and so I did - and I love how it turned out! The ginger comes on just at the end, and not in a heavy handed way. Just a little hint of heat. I really like it.


I used the rest of my nectarines to make a couple batches of the "Apple Pear Baked Oatmeal" from the Oh She Glows Cookbook (I'm not sure if that's exactly what the recipe is called, but you could figure it out). I just used my nectarines and peaches instead of the apples and pears. I LOVE this recipe so much. It has a little bit of maple syrup and coconut sugar in it, but most of the sweetness comes from the fruit itself. I made one batch straight away, and then froze the rest of fruit - and used it to make a second batch several weeks later. SUCH a treat!


Workshop treats!
Mid-summer, I taught an all-afternoon yoga workshop, and I always like to bring special treats for my attendees. I like to use seasonal flavors, local ingredients when possible, and I like to have one chocolatey treat (for the people who need chocolate!), and one without chocolate. I also try to make treats that aren't over the top decadent, since people at a yoga workshop won't want anything too heavy.

So, I made a giant batch of chocolate covered strawberries! I used berries from my friends' farm, and I put ice packs under the glass tray in the back room until I was ready to serve them. It totally worked and they didn't melt at all! woot! I also tossed in a bunch of huge blackberries because I think blackberries are magical, beautiful, and delicious. 



I had a lot of people at that workshop, so I knew I would need a lot of treats to keep everyone happy! I also like to make sure that treats I bring are gluten-free... that way no one is left out! So I made a batch of the amaretto cookies from Great Gluten-Free Eats. I really love that recipe. Those are the little round cookies going around the edge of the platter. The oaty ones are Peach Bars! They are so good! I used the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars from Smitten Kitchen (a recipe my pal Kittee told me about!). I just used a bunch of peaches instead of rhubarb and strawberries! I also used 1/2 coconut oil and 1/2 Miyokos's butter instead of butter, Bob's 1:1 gluten-free flour instead of regular flour, and coconut sugar for the sugar in the recipe. These are so good! 


Garlic Crop! 

Last Spring my auntie and I took a special class on how to grow garlic up at the University gardening program. It was really fun and we got to ask all sorts of questions. I've been growing garlic for many years, but it's always a kind of mystery - why some years it does great and some years it doesn't. So I was excited to take all my fancy new techniques and knowledge and put it to use on this year's crop. I used special soil amendments, I watered more than I usually do, I carefully planted the cloves in super particular fashion... 

... and it was my most pathetic crop ever! What a bummer! I got lots of heads of garlic, of course, but they are all so tiny and sad. My garlic is sentimental because I use garlic that was handed down to me from my mom's father, who got some cloves from my dad's father! So I am pretty attached to this garlic. But maybe it's time to give up... 


... Because my aunt bought garlic "seed cloves" at the class we took and HER garlics turned out HUGE and AMAZING. She was (as always!) super generous and shared two of her beautiful heads of garlic with me. I think maybe next year I will try growing half of my own ancestral garlic and half of some new-fangled garlics! Because I want some giant garlic heads of my own! 


Can you believe that I am such a bad gardener that I didn't even get very many zucchini this year? One of my students is a super gardener and has gave me several beautiful zucchini this year. It seems like most people just can't get rid of zucchini fast enough! On the other hand, I was extremely proud of my meager little zucchinis. Ha ha. I probably got about 15 zucchinis in all, off of two plants. So pathetic. I think I also need to replace the soil in my raised beds, maybe next year! 


TOMATOES
On the other hand, I did pretty well with my tomatoes! It wasn't my best tomato year ever, but not the worst either. I planted lots of cherry tomatoes this year - which is super fun because you can just stand in the driveway and eat a few handfuls of them every time you drive home or go outside to get the mail. But I also planted a few proper tomato varieties and got a few good crops. I made lots of fresh salsa and fresh pasta sauce - two of my favorite tomato experiences! 

We still have lots of time left in tomato season... so at least if all these other summer goodies are on their way out, I can look forward to a lot more tomato joy. 

What summer produce are you sad to see go? What autumn harvest are you excited about? 


3 comments:

  1. Wonderful summer recap! My ancestral garlic also pooped out last year -- I just didn't treat it well -- so I didn't even try this year. As you say, pathetic. But I've had a good time with the chard, kale , tomatoes, parsley and basil. Not bad. Loved all the photos. xxxoo

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  2. I am not a summer person at all (I know, I know!), but I am still always a little sad at the end of the season saying goodbye to fresh, local produce. I already miss the berries and peaches so much. There is really nothing like fresh fruits and veggies. Those figs and apricots look SO amazing!

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  3. We are into spring here! I am big into strawberries in winter and spring, so I have been enjoying those (once we hit summer they basically go mouldy before you get them home!). Mangoes are having an early season this year, normally we don't see them until well into summer, so I bought a delicious Kensington Pride mango to have for afternoon tea one day this week. I am really looking forward to apricots coming into season as well.

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