Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pictures from Summer 2011

I'm having a hard time transitioning to fall.  Don't get me wrong - I love the change in seasons. I guess I'm just not ready for summer to end.  
We picked 42 pounds of strawberries and made multiple batches and varieties of jams:  strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, strawberry vanilla, strawberry rum, and strawberry rum syrup.  

We also made amazing strawberry sorbet, with my new Cuisinart Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Maker.  I'm wondering why I waited so long to buy that.  OMG. I felt compelled to test as many ice creamy things as possible, so we had lemon, raspberry and strawberry sorbets, lemon frozen yogurt, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate chip ice cream.  I'm hooked.

I've still got a gallon ziploc bag of strawberries in the freezer - waiting for the middle of winter - when I need to remember summer.   

Seriously delicious.  We will be making this again. And again. 

Chickens!  Hey, how did they get in here?

These garden shots are from the middle of summer, when everything was big, green and lush.  Pictures from today are not so pretty.  I've still got a few things to harvest:  basil, carrots, and butternut squash.  But really, it's over. 

The garden was decent this year, although not as productive as I would have liked.
Increasing productivity is on my reading/research list for winter.  Next year, I'm not even trying summer squash.  No squash vine borers will be fed in my yard. Hopefully, the year off will get rid of them.  I'm tired of building up my hopes, only to be frustrated and disappointed by no zucchini.  

Broccoli plants early in summer. . .

Fresh broccoli is amazing.
No shortage of cucumbers from the garden, and that means pickles - lots and lots of pickles! I like to use a Bread 'N Butter recipe, but make it a little less sweet than normal.  And, I love sweet onions with the cukes.  Some jars even got a few hot peppers to liven things up.   

My first attempt at homemade ricotta cheese:
Simmering the milk & cream with the juice of half a lemon.You can see the curds and whey separate. Turn it off and allow to cool.  Strain in cheesecloth, collecting the whey in a bowl.  My dogs thought it was the best treat ever.   In the winter, I'll use the whey in homemade bread.  

Stuffed shells with homemade ricotta and sauce from the garden. Mmmmmm. Yes, it was as delicious as it looks.  I will never buy ricotta from the store again.  This was just too easy, and absolutely superior.  

For the first time ever, I made Sweet & Hot Pepper Jelly.  It is so beautiful!  And I really did it from scratch.   I made apple jelly from the skins and cores of apples I picked at a local farm.  The good parts went into our first apple crisp of the season.  I love that I could use the "unusable" parts this way before composting. I chose to start with apple jelly so that I wouldn't need to add in pectin. To the apple jelly, I added chopped sweet red peppers and a variety of hot green peppers.  

Canning reduced the heat of the peppers a little bit, but overall, this is a great condiment.  We've been  using it as a dip for cream cheese wontons and egg rolls.  I also like it with cream cheese on crackers.  Yummo.