Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Weeks Harvest

 Last week I had an abundance of tomatoes and peppers to harvest from my garden. Although I could of let the peppers ripen into their reds and yellows, I decided that I should get them picked just in case October began acting like October. Thankfully it is still unseasonably warm and I'll be able to get more produce from my garden this week. Even the green tomatoes that I decided to leave on the vines are turning red. My tomatoes were late producers this year so I am so thankful for the warm, sunny October days that we have had. The tomatoes were stewed into spaghetti sauce.

I had so many peppers that I decided to try dehydrating them. My freezer is already well stocked with diced peppers from earlier in the season. A friend (bless her heart for being so generous) gave me a dehydrator this fall and I have been having a lot of fun experimenting with it. I sliced up the peppers and let them "cook" for 24 or more hours. So simple as I just sliced up the peppers, loaded the trays and forgot about it. Once dry I crunched the red, yellow and green peppers into a glass jar (a recycled coconut water bottle). I tried using a spice grinder but that didn't work so well. Plus it was taking too long to grind. So I dumped them into the jar and used the handle end of a butter knife to do a little squishing and squashing. A mortal and pestle probably would have worked best but since I don't have one I just improvised with what I have. Besides, I kind of like the varied sizes of the peppers chunks...and I love the colors. I will use these peppers as a seasoning in soups, stews, skillet potatoes, etc. The flavor of the dried peppers is wonderful! I could just munch on them like potato chips. Maybe that's what I need to work on next.....sweet potato chips, beet chips, carrot chips! I'll let ya know if I get around to it. Right now the dehydrator is full of apple..CHIPS! :)

I had a bunch of strawberries that I knew we wouldn't be able to get eaten up before they started to spoil. Usually, when I freeze strawberries, I slice and flash freeze on a cookie sheet. I decided to try something different. My cookie sheets were baking, well, cookies of all things. I also thought the muffin pan would take up a little less space yet accommodate more strawberries. I sliced and loaded up the compartments of a muffin pan, put the pan in the freezer (after a little rearranging) and forgot all about them until the next day. I took the pan out of the freezer and got distracted (this happens often in a house full of littles) for long enough to permit a slight thaw (about 10 minutes), I worked a spoon around the edges and the strawberry clumps popped right out. Now I have a freezer bag of strawberries (perfect for smoothies!) that aren't all stuck together...this does make life a bit easier. And I'm all about adding a little easy to my busy days.

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