Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Frost Is On The Pumpkin....

Good Morning Good Souls,

Yesterday was a day of work around here. I "put the garden to winter", which means I ripped up a good portion of the plants I spent all summer growing and put them in the BIG bucket for the compost pile. I take off what's left of the produce growing, yank, pull and shake the plants until the beds are just the old dirt showing with not many signs of life. This is a bittersweet task for a lot of reasons.

One is because the marigolds are still going strong. I spotted a bee on one of them. He was lazily making his way around the flowers and I felt a responsibility to leave the flowers for him. If he could still be at his task this late into the season, by gory, I should leave him some pollen to use for himself. The way he was moving was telling me his time was winding down and I felt I should leave him something to nourish his last days. Especially in light of the reduced bee problem going on right now, I felt I wanted to give him every last chance. So, I have left 5 of the marigold plants for him to use.

BUT we've also not had our first frost until last night. This is the reason that I didn't do this weeks ago, I was still hoping those last 5 green peppers were going to turn red on the vine. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be, so they are sitting in a bowl on my lovely granite countertops along with the jalapenos that were left. I actually got enough of those to get one more batch of canned peppers. SShhhhh, don't tell my brother-in-law, but I'm canning this batch especially for him. He is of Mexican descent and LOVES his peppers hot. Well, contrary to most belief, when jalapenos go red, they get HOTTER. So, I've left them on the plant until they are red and I'm going to make him a special Christmas mixture of red and green jalapenos to enjoy. We did not have them go red last year, so when I canned them, they were green. This year, they matured early and some of them went red. Well, I grow these for Music Man, because I don't really eat anything this hot. Somehow his Irish-German palate can stomach that. My Irish-German palate wants nothing whatsoever to do with them. It's a childhood nightmare from a cousin that tricked me into eating a VERY hot pepper as a 5 year old. Since then, no thanks!! But I digress, I was talking about the red jalapeno. Well, my limited pepper experience tells me that when the pepper goes red, it gets sweeter, like bell peppers do. So, when the jalapeno went red, I thought, oh, it will be sweeter. I grew them for making hot pepper jelly. Music Man asked how it would taste, I said I thought sweeter then a green one and so he took a big bite, seeds, ribs and all (that's the hottest part, in case you didn't know that) and he was in some serious pain. Ate a big bowl of yogurt to try to counteract the capsacin in the pepper that makes it so hot. I felt really badly that I was wrong about that heat factor. In any case, I hope my brother-in-law likes these goodies, it will be a nice surprise for him, I'm sure.

So, back to dismanteling my hard work. The boys thoroughly enjoyed being able to pull up plants, stomp through the beds and run around the garden like crazy men. The taking apart for them was a lot of fun, especially helping to pull the beans and vines off the chicken wire trellis. They were very excited when they could pull a big bean off and the browner and squishier, the better. They are boys, after all. For me the experience makes me a bit sad because this is the end of growing our food myself for the season, of fresh veggies for a meal that I can walk out and harvest myself. Of knowing that I grew that healthy, nutritious, organic food to nourish my family, and that's one less factory farmed piece of produce they sell in the conglomerate grocery stores. Plus, heck, it's just a whole lot of fun to grow your own food. To take a plant from a seed and grow it to something that's cut up in your salad bowl is a truly powerful feeling. I still have some lettuce and spinach out there and a few herbs that I'll need to get dried, but all in all, it's the end of the season for us. From here, for local food, I'll need to stock up on butternut squash. This will join the potatoes (of which there aren't many left, they were very good and we chowed down on them!!) I grew myself in the bulkhead. Little Red loves squash, this is his very favorite vegetable and he'll eat it like nothing else, it's his healthy candy, I guess.

I also stocked up on some wonderful cheese I bought from a local cheese producer. This is by far the best cheese I've ever tasted, so creamy and good. Seriously, if you love cheese, you'll want to get some of this. It's so nice with a few crackers and a cup of tea (or wine or beer if you're so inclined) on a chilly day. Perfection on a cracker, I'm telling ya. You won't be disappointed if you try some of this. And they ship for those of you not near Walpole, NH. I don't normally advocate for shipping food, but if you eat everything else in your life local, make this the one thing you get from away. The farm stand where I purchase this cheese calls me "the cheese lady". Made me laugh when the clerk told me this, because they don't know my name, but since I buy cheese every time I go there (3 last time since they are closing for the season soon, wanted to stock up for winter), they gave me the knickname. And I rave about the cheese to whomever is in line with me, the clerks, everyone. The clerk even told me that the man who makes the cheese came there to check out where his product is stocked and all that good stuff. They told him about me and he was psyched to hear about me, so I sent him an email telling him who I was and that I really think that being able to get such wonderful cheese local is a great treat and blessing. I thanked him for his hard work and making such a high quality food to nourish so many others, and told him how much I appreciate his offering this for my family. It's his herd of cows that give the milk, so he does the whole sheebang. Plus, as a side benefit, it's lower in fat and sodium then most other cheeses, has no preservatives and is aged over 60 days before it is even sold. Just a little miracle, that creamy goodness!

So, after seeing the frost on the grass this morning, or as Little Red calls it-frosting, I am ready to hunker down and set my sites on flannel pants and sweaters and wool socks. I've got a couple good books in mind at the library for long, cold winter days and I'm planning on a few Christmas presents to make. This year is going to be a mostly homemade holiday here since money is tight. We'll buy for the kids, but everyone else is getting what my little hands can create. I prefer this for Christmas anyways, more on that in a later post. It's feeling like the time to reflect and create, just what autumn and winter are all about for me. That and leaf jumping and snowmen on the lawn anyways.

Fresh butternut and local cheese wishes to you, ~Peacemom

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