LAKE MACBRIDE— At the end of the season, before the last gleanings from the garden have turned to compost, home cooks prep and cook and preserve to make use of summer’s bounty.
Foraging in the refrigerator as if it were foreign turf, forgetful of how the mix of cut onions, diverse greens and leftovers arrived, the best is culled for a hearty fall soup. Kale and onions, Brussels sprouts and broccoli stalks, celery and carrot, a turnip, some potatoes, frozen sweet corn, and everything else suitable goes into a large, stainless steel stock pot.
Tomatoes are selected from the counter, their numbers diminishing without replenishment from the garden patch. Cutting away the soft and dark spots, they were cored and pulsed on low speed in the blender, skins and all. The red puree was poured all at once into the simmering ingredients. A handful of leftover farfalle, bay leaves, some dried red and black beans, and chervil were added. The pot simmered more than an hour on low heat. It was soup for dinner.
At 3:15 a.m. I brought the graniteware water bath canner from downstairs to the kitchen. Using the wire rack, four quarts and a pint of applesauce, plus the pepper puree made this weekend, were lowered into the pot which was then filled with warm tap water. Moving the heavy pot to the stove, I turned the heat on high to process the jars of summer goodness. Now breakfast.
While working in the local food system, one never knows when or where the next paying job will come along. I finished the season at the orchard yesterday, at one CSA the work is clearing the field, which won’t take too long, then there is the planting in the high tunnel and fall share help, which will end soon as well. There is the prospect of cutting firewood at another farm, but weather seems likely to intervene before long. It begs the question, what’s next?
While invited to return to the warehouse after the season, it doesn’t pay enough given the investment in health and well being required. It is a fallback position to pay some of our bills should no other opportunities present themselves. There are a lot of low wage jobs around town, but they present the same problem of occupying space without providing enough income. I’m confident something will materialize.
While there is fresh food, I’ll continue to eat well and stock the pantry for winter. Mostly, we eat to live, and there is still time to make deposits in the food pantry. Hopefully there will be enough reserves to see us through until spring.