18 October 2012

Awesome Autumn

So here we are, mid-October and the day light hours are getting shorter as we approach All Saints Day aka: Halloween, Day of the Dead aka: Dia de los Muertos and Samhain aka: Harvest Festival.

I already miss lingering outdoors in the garden on warm summer evenings, and the light, oh, how I miss the light of long summer days! But with the change of season, different activities come to the fore, here, in Oregon we are gathering peppers and apples, putting up the summer garden's harvest to prepare for the winter ahead.
I love the flavor of roasted peppers, after the skins are blackened on the grill or in the oven, just slip off the skins, scoop out the seeds and freeze them in a zip lock. During the winter, when peppers are not as plentiful as they are now, I chop the frozen peppers and add them to soups, wraps, what have you for that delicious smokey flavor of summer. I love to visit local farms and glean the fields, it's enjoyable to be outdoors harvesting the golden and red peppers that have been picked over at the end of the growing season. To experience the subtle and delicious tastes of various pepper varieties, try this rich classic soup recipe from Epicurious.
Sweet Basil is another harvest item we treasure. We've had our fill of caprese - with juicy tomatoes fresh from the garden, basil leaves and buffalo mozzarella. While traditional pesto is ground with a pestle, on Planet Joy, we chop the leaves with olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. Again, a ziplock bag makes a great freezable container, chop off what you need, it thaws in moments, add fresh parmesan and enjoy a blast from the past Preserve what you harvest from your garden or what you gather from the farmers market!
Winter squash is one of Nature's ways of storing delicious nutrition for us. If you've grown an abundance of squash, take care in harvesting and storing. Most produce stores best at low temperatures, don't store your squash too close to apples though! I can't wait to try this delicious butternut squash soup from Williams-Sonoma. I'll get the hazelnuts at Ashland Envy, because Lisa is now adding the finest quality food & wine & foods from the PNW and Oregon to the boutique!
Apples are another favorite, we have what I call a "hobby orchard" next door, the trees have been long abandoned, but nevertheless, the trees faithfully produce fruit each and every year. So we pick the 7 or so varieties and dry them. It's a family project, climbing trees, picking and cleaning the fruit, peeling and cutting with our handy spiral apple corer. You can always get store-bought for any of the ingredients we have discussed, but somehow, our home-made always tastes better.

Please share your comments on what is your favorite harvest produce, recipe or activity, I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. I love all the gorgeous colors of the harvest. I loved the idea of freezing roasted peppers. Thanks for sharing

    1. Roasting the peppers is a bit of a chore, but I love it when I do a lot of them that I have them ready in a moments notice, all through the winter!


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