The Squirrel Season

One Day's Harvest

One Day’s Harvest

Oops–does my title sound as if I’m hunting for squirrels? I promise that’s not the case, but I am imitating the activity of the squirrels right now. Translation? My garden is coming in in full force. Winter is not far behind, so I’m trying to store up as much food as I can for that time when nothing grows. Just like the Midwestern squirrels I used to watch as a child–I’m getting ready for the days ahead.

It may very well be stubbornness–or something even less flattering–that has caused me to move to one of the driest and least hospitable places for growing crops in the entire Southwest and then take up gardening. But I never had time to do it before. Now I do, and the garden has rewarded us generously.

I love to see pretty jars of canned food lined up in a storage cupboard or on a countertop. You can’t beat the flavor of the fresh tomatoes, corn, and potatoes you harvest at 4:30 and serve at 5 pm. My freezer bulges with loaves of zucchini bread and bags of home grown pumpkin for our Thanksgiving pies. This year, I discovered that our warm Arizona garage is the perfect place to dry herbs, too, so this year’s dill dip will be made with our own dill. It’s kind of fun to be a squirrel after all!

My favorite produce this year came from a peach tree my son Joe and I planted three summers ago. At the time it was not much more than a stick that barely reached our shoulders. This year, despite a late frost that nipped most of the blossoms, the tree (now higher than my head) produced a total of three lush, delicious peaches. Next year, I tell myself, will be the bumper crop. Provided the frost doesn’t get too aggressive, of course.

Our church organist tells me the apples are ready at her house, and we can have all we want. Applesauce, apple butter, apple pie filling–yum! You’ll find me in the kitchen again this week, making like a squirrel. Come on over–I have a peeler with your name on it!

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Fresh-Dried Dill, Sage, Rosemary, and Parsley. No Thyme, sorry.

Fresh-Dried Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Dill. No Thyme, sorry.

First Peaches from a Tree we Planted Ourselves. A red-letter day!

First Peaches from the Tree We Planted Ourselves. A red-letter day!

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I am also in squirrel mode! It’s funny/nice to know that us folks on different sides of the country, in totally different places, are essentially doing the same thing! I live in New York City, but I am also in stockpiling mode! I’m freezing lovely produce, and making huge batches of zacusca. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but it’s a Romanian dish (I’m Romanian American, among other things)- basically the idea is taking the last of the fall harvest and canning it into this amazing spread that you can use on bread or pasta. Usually it’s made of slow roasted and pureed peppers, tomatoes, onion, and eggplant, combined with spices and tomato paste. It makes this lovely fresh spread that tastes eternally of summer, and come one cold and blustery January day I’ll be so happy that I have it!

    Reply

    • My goodness, zacusca sounds marvelous! I hadn’t heard of it, but I’m going to go looking for a recipe. I certainly have plenty of eggplant, tomatoes, and onions. And on pasta? Yum, yum, yum!

      More tomato juice went into jars tonight, and there are bags of apples in my kitchen at the moment, just waiting to convert into applesauce or pie filling. I picture us “squirrels” across the country, listening for the satisfying ‘ping’ of sealing jars! A nice, useful community.

      Reply

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