Today is the first day of autumn and I thought it may be fitting to reflect on the past hot summer months this blustery evening. Summer started as a turbulent season for me with lots of change and rebirth in my personal life that one normally finds during spring. I was late to the party this year apparently. I found comfort in the country, seeing my grandfather’s garden in all of it’s glory during the height of the season and finding my favorite produce in the CSA box week after week. Here are a couple of the highlights.
My lovely friend Laura manages an organic farm in rural Ohio. Spending a weekend there in early June was just what I needed to recharge a little bit. That is also where I discovered I would never buy anything but local farm fresh eggs again. They will change your life, seriously.
This man has been gardening all his life and watching him labor over his cucumbers and peppers year after year as a kid definitely had an effect on me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have been growing cherry tomatoes on my porch in college out of a bucket before I even liked tomatoes. (Which occurred a couple of years later oddly enough.) Gardening for gardening sake I guess.
Carrots are a new favorite in the mix of grandpa’s crops. There is nothing quite like pulling up a perfectly sized carrot and eating it right out of the garden.
Food festivals are staples of American culture. I mean why wouldn’t you go somewhere to eat all day in the street. Lately, it has gotten harder for me to enjoy these types of events because I can no longer eat gluten and you never know what is in anything when ordering perogies out of a tin tray from a little innocent Hungarian woman (definitely not something I should eat..but frozen bananas are cool.)
It was probably one of the better years for blueberries. I infused vodka with some of the berries that is close to a cordial by now since I haven’t strained the fruit out yet. It will be absolutely divine in February.
The tiny tomatoes rise again! I didn’t even plant them this year they reseeded themselves from last year because they just died out and returned with a vengeance. The most difficult to pick, but the sweetest and most exceptionally delicious to eat. Still not sure of the variety, but I don’t care. I just hope I get to enjoy them again next year.
How did summer treat you?
for the farmers markets!! Next week is our first one of the season here in Pittsburgh. Check when your local markets begin here.
This past summer was not the best for berry picking, but I was determined to have a berry stash for the winter. After calling around to all the local berry picking farms within an hour drive of my house, I found one farm with berries left to pick, one. This particular farm had irrigation systems hooked up in their patch and it was probably the only reason they still had some fruit left on the bushes. It was sweltering hot that morning in the berry patch and I only lasted an hour and a half before I surrendered to the hot June heat. I left the farm with 2 pints of blueberries and 1 pint of raspberries. I took this photo after I got home and quickly froze as much of the bounty, all while knowing full well I would eat them all if I didn’t . Thankfully these made it into the freezer and I will enjoy them in the many short days of winter that lie ahead.
There was really nothing better I could have done on the first day of autumn than check out Pittsburgh’s own community apiary, Burgh’s Bees. A friend and I went on a hike through a local organization, Venture Outdoors, that ended up at the hives. Our guide said there were over one million bees combined in all of the hives there. We suited up in the classic mesh mats and only managed to have one person get stung in the group, me. Probably, because I was taking pictures and not paying enough attention..either way, it was a fabulous way to start autumn.
It has been such a bountiful summer. Almost all of the fruit received via our CSA was eaten before we could prepare anything with it. The peaches this year were unimaginably delicious. I ended up ordering an extra box of peaches to preserve with intentions of using a couple to infuse vodka. I have wanted to infuse vodka for quite a while now, but was still on the fence. The idea finally surfaced as a reality when one of my closest friends had invited us over to try his kale/garlic infusion for Bloody Marys a couple of weeks ago. The flavors were rich and the process was so simple to create. When we left his house I had made up my mind and that same day I set out to get the rest of our supplies needed, vodka.
Directions to infuse peach vodka:
Obtain a litre of your favorite vodka. (We used Luksusowa; a reasonably priced potato vodka)
2 Sliced ripe peaches with the skins on
A glass container to hold the ingredients for the duration of infusion.
Place your sliced fruit into the glass container. I used my iced tea pitcher but a jar would work just as well. Pour all vodka over the sliced fruit. Then cover with lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to sit for 6-8 days. Make sure you stir or shake the mixture every couple of days. After the 6-8 days, it is time to strain out the fruit. Using a funnel pour all of the contents back into the original liquor bottle. A lot of liquor and flavor is absorbed into the fruit so I recommend squeezing the remaining fruit through cheesecloth. After the straining is complete, your vodka is ready to be enjoyed!
This past weekend we attended a friend’s fabulous outdoor wedding on a farm located just outside of the city. I tried pig roast for the first time and couldn’t stop eyeing up dessert all night, which did not disappoint!
The garden is gloriously climbing to the best part of the summer, harvest time. Our first peek with the tiniest cherry tomatoes. They are the size of marbles, seriously. First pickling session of the season to hopefully happen this week, stay tuned.