Sunday, November 27, 2011

Still Going...

Remember what I said about November in my last post? Well I take it all back. This November has been one for the record books- it's been sunny, mostly warm and pretty much the nicest November I can recall. Friday it hit 16 C (that's 60 F in American)and the overnight low was 11 - that's more like the beginning of October! All month we've had mainly highs in the double digits, a trend that continued this weekend although it's raining now. It cools down at night of course; we've had a couple of light frosts so far, but still no snow and even on the coldest nights we've barely hit freezing! Which is why I still have carrots, beets and a few herbs and flowers still outside, as well as brussel sprouts in the garden. If I'd known we were going get away with this kind of weather this long, I'd have planted more fall crops. And yes that's one foolhardy tomato plant in the bin with the beets. It, along with a handful of others, sprouted in Sept and I thought I'd yanked them all out but it appears I only took the top off this one and it kept growing. Now it's about 8 inches tall, it's got a thick sturdy stem and seems very healthy. I think it's a sign that I'm supposed to try to winter it over in the sunporch.

Inside the food preservation continues- I know I said I was pretty much done with canning this year and I am, all but the beets which are currently sitting in the fridge awaiting pickling. There's one more canning workshop to go as well- we'll be making pear mincemeat which is a first for me so I'l let you know how that turns out - I'm not fond of teaching stuff I've never made before but we've had some requests for it so I'm willing to give it a shot.

At home I'm onto the non cannable condiments now. I grated up a nice chunk of horseradish to make a pint of the extra strong stuff in vinegar- this stuff is guaranteed to clear your sinuses!

I've also soaked some mustard seeds and made a fiery mustard based on this recipe. I'm thinking of doing a horseradish version as well.

I got my hands a few last hot peppers and some local garlic to do another batch of chili garlic paste , since the one I made early this fall is all but gone already. All of these are small batches and stored in the refrigerator. When the chilly weather finally arrives, we'll be ready for it!

The science experiments, aka vinegars are almost wrapped up as well. The cider vinegar is the clear winner this year- literally! It's a gorgeous amber and still smells of apples. I used some of it in the mustard. The red wine vinegar is still murky and some mold was growing in the sides of the vessel, above the liquid so I decanted it into some clean jars and there's a new mother growing on the surface on couple so I think I'll leave them a little longer. Speaking of the mother, the chef (our friend who's temporarily couchsurfing with us), convinced me to add a mother from one of the vinegars to a jar of moisten red fife wheat flour to see what would happen. Well it's bubbling up a storm right now which means something's (likely yeast) growing in it but I have no idea what we plan to do with it next! It smells good tho so I'm guessing we've made a sourdough starter- guess I might have to take up baking.

Another advantage of having a chef for a housemate, besides the obvious, is having someone to talk with about food! The Russian being a typical meat and potatoes kinda guy couldn't care less about how to make vinegar or mustard from scratch. The chef on the other hand compares notes, offers up suggestions and brings home all kinds of treats and leftovers. We've both been scouring local thrift shops for old cookboks and are amassing quite a collection. Looks like I have some more projects ahead of me this winter!

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