It is absolutely beautiful here right now. It finally froze earlier this week. That is a couple weeks late for us, but you won’t hear me complaining. It froze and snowed for the first time this season on the same night. That is a little unusual. Fortunately, the snow melted when the sun came up the next day. There’s not any on the ground now. We harvested the tomatoes green and ripe, the winter squash, and all our varieties of peppers.
Ever since we moved here, I have been intrigued by how much we discuss the weather. Of course, we need a forecast to plan our day’s or even week’s activities but it is even more than that. We compare it to an earlier event of the same or worse magnitude, such as it was so hot today and so cold yesterday or so wet a month ago and so dry now, we discuss what the weather is like where I am as compared to where you are even if the rest of our conversation is en emergency. It is pretty entertaining!
Ok enough of my rant. I want to talk about the weather! It has been pea-soup foggy almost every morning this week. There is lore that 90 days after fog, there will be precipitation. The more days in a row and the heavier the fog, the more precipitation. If the fog appears in October the precipitation will be a snowstorm in January. I usually mentally try to keep track of this but I don’t write it down anywhere. In my head, it is fairly accurate but Handsome Husband says that when the world in my head meets the real world, I usually end up with a migraine. So I guess, check it out for yourself. I also don’t know if it works everywhere. Also, let me know what you found out.
Harvesting and winterizing and remodeling have been happening simultaneously around here. H.H is remodeling the garage so he ends up with a wood shop and we still have room to park a car and store garage-y type stuff without it getting covered in sawdust.
The squash, pumpkin, and gourd harvest went well. These are the critters that took over the garden all summer. I’m so glad there was something to show for all those vines. From right to left; Ghost and orange pumpkins (the orange ones have ripened to orange very nicely), several different kinds of gourds including Apple and Caveman Club, a light green Hubbard squash and a darker green Hubbard squash, the pile in front are Butternuts, and off to the right out of sight are the acorns!
The kids all got to pick what they wanted so that took our pile down some. The gourds that aren’t used for decorating go into a box to harden until next year when they will become something fun and exciting. The pumpkins were all adopted very rapidly. The Butternuts are my favorite. They have all been baked and what we didn’t eat was pureed and frozen because they make the best squash soup ever! That leaves us with those darn Hubbards. H.H. and his mom really like those best but I’m betting they can’t put a dent in all of those. Right now, they are covered snugly in tarps still on the front porch (don’t forget the remodeling going on in the garage. There isn’t a postage-stamp-sized storage spot in there right now). I have threatened to drive around town leaving them on people’s doorsteps but in reality if I can find a space for them where they won’t freeze solid, the chickens really appreciate them in January and February after we have eaten our fill and the hens have been locked up with only each other for company for a couple of months. If you would like one or two of these huge Hubbards though, let me know, we can probably buy them a ticket on the bus.
The peppers are probably my favorite part of the end of garden harvest. We always harvest loads of tomatoes too, in all stages of ripeness. The tomatoes are just overwhelming, packed in boxes to be sorted twice a week and canned. The peppers are different! They have worked all summer to ripen. By the time I get to processing them, many more will be red or orange. They smell so wonderful, whether in the baskets setting in the corner of the kitchen, roasting, cut up fresh or using them frozen.
Let me identify the peppers in the picture. Starting at the back left and moving clockwise; Anaheim, Bell, Jalapeno, Tabasco, and Pimento.
Anaheim peppers are the ones that are found in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store, sometimes in cans labeled “green chilies” sometimes whole and dried in plastic bags. They are what makes the delightful green enchilada sauce that is not too hot but tastes like roasted peppers. They are what is found in Chili Relleno. Mmmmmm. Yep that’s the pepper.
We start the processing of these beauties by roasting them. When they are done, the skin will be mostly black all the way around but the pepper itself will not be burned. If they were to be used right away, they would then be wrapped in a wet cloth. This makes the skin peel off quickly and easily. If not eaten immediately, we lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. After they are frozen, we pack them in gallon ziploc bags and back into the freezer they go until we need them.
To use them for GREEN ENCHILADA SAUCE:
3 large roasted Anaheim peppers (if frozen thaw) 2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 cups water 3 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons butter 1 Tablespoon Chicken Base
Peel the peppers, cut off the stem, and cut them into large pieces. Put the peppers and 2 cups of the water into a blender. I have also used the food processor but usually there is too much water and it goes everywhere. Blend until the peppers are pureed.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. add the flour and the chicken base (or bullion) and stir until the flour begins to brown. Pour the contents of the blender through a wire mesh sieve into the pan and stir constantly until thick. Everything gets a little messy at the point. Pour the remaining 2 cups of water through the sieve into the pan. Continue stirring and add the oregano. After about 5 minutes or so the entire mixture will thicken to a thin gravy. Add the salt to taste. The sauce can be used immediately or refrigerated for up to a week.
Whenever I need green chilies for something, like bean soup, I just take as many Anaheims as I need out of the freezer, thaw them, peel, seed and chop them just on the cutting board.
The bell peppers that we don’t use fresh, I remove their stems, cut in half, remove the seed and freeze in bags.
The Jalapenos are simply cleaned and frozen whole. I mostly use them in our Jalapeno truffles unless I use them fresh. Handsome Husband always saves some and smokes them in his electric smoker for Chipotle Powder. He cuts the stem off and smokes them at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 hours. The peppers were still soft so the next day we put them in the oven at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit and checked them every 1/2 hour until they were crunchy. It only took about another hour but it depends on the size of the peppers. Other years we haven’t had to put them in the oven at all. When I had no children or pets in the house, I put the dried Jalapenos in the food processor with the chopping blade in place until they were in little pieces. This part of the process is really loud and the smell can be a little overpowering. One time when my children were little, their Grandma and I decided to make our own horseradish sauce one cold and rainy spring. The smell as we ground the Horseradish root was so strong with the house all closed up against the cold, that our eyes stung and our noses ran. Even today as adults, my babies haven’t forgiven me, Grandma, or the Horseradish. I am trying to spare you from this fate when I tell you to remove innocents from your work area before grinding dried Jalepenos. So, after the peppers are in small pieces, I put the pieces in small batches through an electric coffee/spice grinder until it was powder. Make sure to clean the grinder thoroughly after. As delicious as Chipotle Powder is, it isn’t if it gets mixed up with your next grinding project.
Doesn’t that look delicious? I wish you could smell this!
Sometimes, we create chili ristras by stringing together peppers like Anaheims or Cayennes and hang them in the kitchen window to dry. They don’t look anything like the real ristras that we admire but they perform the same function. Then, when a recipe calls for cayenne, we just pull off a couple and grind them in that same spice grinder.
Mmmmm. Pimentos. They are the pepper in stuffed green olives. They are fantastic in cheese spread. They are THE reason to make Chicken a la King. So, we roast them, wrap them in wet towels (or put them in a ziploc bag in the fridge for another day if roasting day gets too busy), peel them, core and seed them, and cut them up in slices on the cutting board. Then I pack them in jelly jars (don’t add any water but I do pour the juice that had accumulated in the bag). I don’t add salt to the jars but you can if you want. Put scalded lids on them and twist the rings tight and process in the pressure canner for 10 minutes at 10 pounds pressure unless you live 5000 feet above sea level and then make the pressure 15 pounds.
I have frozen pimentos before but the problem is that they are part of my fast-meal plan and thawing and seeding add to my prep time. If I have already sliced and canned them then I can just dump them in whatever I am doing. It doesn’t matter to us whether we are using green or red pimentos but I try to get a few jars that are only red in case we are having company. The red ones show up best in a cheese ball at Christmas, for example. Mostly, I just slice and pack in jars both red and green.
H.H. loves hot sauces! Unearthly hot hot sauces! Every year for his birthday and Christmas his kids get him a new one to add to his collection. So every year, I try to grow some hotter-then-jalapeno-hot peppers. Over the years we have found recipes for hot sauces and experimented with them until we find something that tastes good as well as being hot with the idea in mind that this is an eternal experiment and next year we will do something just a little different.
Over 15 years ago, we printed out some hot sauce recipes from PepperFool.com. Tom’s Double Barrel Hab Hot Sauce has served as the base for many hot sauces since then, not just using habaneros. This is how I used it with the Tabasco peppers that we grew.
Be careful about breathing in or touching hot peppers after they are ground or cut. They really can burn your skin. Wear gloves when handling them and DO NOT touch your eyes until you have washed your hands several times even after you take off the gloves. If you do get burns on your skin, rinsing with vinegar and applying aloe really does help. In the eyes is really painful, don’t put in or take out contacts after handling peppers. In fact, I usually have to throw my contacts away if I forget and touch my eyes.
HOT SAUCE 2018
1/2 cup onions, chopped 1/2 cup vinegar (I use white)
2 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup (about 2 large) carrots, grated I used all the Tabascos-maybe 1 1/2 cup
1 Tablespoon olive or canola oil ground in food processor
Saute the onions, garlic and carrots until the onions are soft. Put the cooked vegies in a large glass container, a quart jar wasn’t large enough but a bowl or crock would work great. The ground peppers go in as well. Pour in the vinegar and lime juice and let the mixture steep overnight. The next day, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth and squeeze the cloth dry. DON”T FORGET THE GLOVES!!!!
We store the finished sauce in the fridge. The oil makes a little layer on top but not nearly as bad as if it were butter the vegies were sauteed in. Thanks Tom Greaves for the recipe that we have had so much fun with for all these years.
Let us know how your end-of-garden experiences are going. We would love to hear from you. Please tell me what you think about the authenticity of the fog record. I would love to hear whether you think it’s accurate or hog wash.