Here in Wisconsin, the seasonal shift from summer into fall is taking hold.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Where last week there were cucumber-mint fizzy waters, and burgers and zucchini on the grill, today there are cups of hot tea and a simmering pot of chicken stock. My old canner is rattling away on the stove as we slowly fill the pantry shelves with the last of summer’s bounty.
Below are five of the things that are making my heart (and tastebuds!) happy in the kitchen this season.
We had a bumper crop of basil this year and I set to work making a ridiculous amount of pesto. So much so that we’ll have to work at using it up before next July! We enjoy homemade pesto on eggs, our weekly homemade pizzas, veggie sautés, and pastas.
I don’t know how most folks store their pesto for use later in the year, but here’s my simple, handy method:
Make your pesto with whatever recipe you love (mine is your basic basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and salt).
Run through the food processor until you’re happy with the texture, then drop onto a cookie sheet (closely spaced) using the smallest ice cream scoop you can find. (Mine is something elvish like 2 tablespoons, and sold as a ‘cookie scoop’.)
Place the tray in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours, then remove pesto from sheet with a thin spatula.
Store in zip bags or mason jars in the freezer. Thaw those cute little buggers in any quantity you’d like throughout the year.
Easy! Convenient! Less waste!
Roasted Red Peppers
Some years back, Pete and I were panini-crazed. Eggs, sharp cheddar, sausage, spinach, and roasted red peppers, all on sourdough bread, were our standard.
Since bread became a treat (rather than a staple) around here, we’ve mostly outgrown our panini habit, but we still love to have them once or twice a year for old time’s sake. Back when these were a weekly affair, I started canning our own lemony, garlicy, roasted red peppers. And we absolutely love having them on hand! These days they are often destined for salads, pizzas, and egg bakes.
My recipe comes from my favorite canning book, Canning for a New Generation (afflink). I. Love. This. Book. Her recipes tend to be small, though, so I always double or quadruple.
Buy that book. It’s fabulous.
We’re swimming in hot peppers over here. (I mean that figuratively, because: ouch.) I bought some from my friend Mary last week and ended up with quite a few more than I was expecting.
Backstory: I’ve introduced you to Mary in the past. She’s an herbalist, an organic farmer, and a wickedly funny Amish mother of seven boys. (“Wickedly” is probably the wrong word here. You get the idea.)
One year I ordered organic calendula from her for LüSa. I told her I could take (and I quote): “a ton of it”.
She politely smiled and nodded. (Some of you already see where this is going.)
When I came to pick the calendula up three months later, she said in a very serious voice, “Now back when I went to school a ton was 2,000 lbs.” She looked at me over the top of her wire rim glasses. “And you did order a ton of calendula this spring…”
My eyes widened.
She couldn’t restrain herself anymore, and broke up with laughter, along with her husband and adult children. I blushed, and breathed a sigh of relief. Oh, how we laughed!
There was a similar vibe when I picked up hot peppers last week. I told her the week prior that I would take “loads”, but carefully corrected myself and added, “Though not a ton.” More laughter.
I know know that a “load”, in Amish Farmer Speak is something close to a bushel.
Because that was what was waiting for me when I came back for my veggies. I took the abundant hot peppers gratefully.
But honestly, a bushel is a lot of hot peppers (nearly a ton, in my estimation). What to do with so many?
Most went straight into the freezer for future salsas and hot sauces; but three pounds worth were trimmed and brined with garlic for a future batch of fermented sriracha.
I’ll share a recipe after I’ve taken this project through to completion, but for now you can find my canned sriracha recipe here.
An autumn-inspired shrub
Since I gave up my evening glass of red wine nearly a year ago, I’ve taken up a new (and arguably healthier) habit: shrub. A probiotic and alcohol-free beverage, I make a batch every week or two from seasonal fruits and herbs. (Some of you saw my shrub recipes in Taproot 27: BLOOM.)
This one is based off of that same vinegar-honey-fruit-spice blend that I outlined in Taproot, and is beautifully balanced with ripe, local pears; spicy fresh ginger root; and fragrant cardamom. Quite possibly my new favorite evening sip.
Einkorn sourdough bread
And last but not least, sourdough bread. Einkorn sourdough, to be precise.
A year or so ago some of you tipped me off to einkorn as an easier to digest wheat and we gave it a try. (We had been on-and-off gluten-free for years and were just starting to dabble in wheat again at the time.) It turns out you were right! We find einkorn easier to digest then other wheat.
We still don’t do a lot of it, but we do love to bake and when we do, this is our go-to now.
The book we picked up is this one (afflink) and includes everything you need to know, including instructions on nurturing a wild sourdough starter (mine is pictured above).
Bread is a treat indeed, and this version is our hands-down favorite.
What’s happening in your kitchen these days? Share your favorite recipes, projects, or links below!