Archive for September, 2008

The Last Days Of Summer

Listening to the weather report this morning, I heard some of my least favorite words; patchy frost.  Summer is slipping through my fingers like so much slippery sand, and every day we get closer to my plants being unable to bring their growth to fruition.

This weekend marked the end of several things.  First we visited the community garden to see if there was anything worth harvesting.  I fully anticipated that there wouldn’t be any corn, but I expected tons of beets.  When we arrived we found that the beets had never made it out of their seeds.  The cornstalks were an epic fail, having grown only 3 feet tall.  While they did put out actual cobs of corn, none of them matured into anything edible.  The good news is that my 8 slices of seed potato (which worked out to 2 whole potatoes) blossomed into close to 10 pounds of new potatoes.  Also, the CG surprised me with a hearty harvest of carrots.  There were full heads of lettuce too just waiting to be harvested, but they were covered in slugs (or snails) and I wasn’t about to fight for them.

When we arrived back home I started harvesting beets and carrots from the roof pots.  With such a glut of carrots, I realized I should find a way to preserve them before they all went bad.  My fat Parmex carrots were canned plain, to enjoy in a dish some winter evening in the future.  The Little Fingers seemed the perfect size to use for an Alton Brown recipe I found online for something called ‘firecrackers’, a spicy carrot pickle.  The CG carrots are still sitting in a bowl on my table, waiting for me to be inspired.  My lovely Chioggia beets were supposed to be canned plain so I could enjoy their stripy beauty once the snow starts falling, but the universe had other plans.  It turns out that when you can stripy beets, the heat makes the stripes come out and all you’re left with is a weird white beet that sort of looks like a turnip.  Also, a huge bunch of beets can be reduced to next to nothing once you take off all the stems and peel and roots.  My bunch of 12 Chioggias yielded 1 250ml jar.  I had been expecting to have a huge harvest of beets from the CG to turn into pickled beets, so when that didn’t work out I still had the pickle fever and had to buy some instead.  After all of that I thought, good, I’m done preserving things for the year.  And then, stupid Mark Bittman seduced me.  I was looking for something to entertain myself online and happened across his NY Times blog.  And what did he have a video for, but a recipe for tomato jam.  I have been meaning to make tomato jam for several years now, but keep getting distracted.  So at 7pm last night I decided to go pick a few tomatoes in the rain, including one of the Greek Freaks just so I could make jam.

Now I really am done.

For the rest of the winter we have:

Jams in strawberry, strawberry pepper balsamic, strawberry vanilla, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and tomato (close to 30 jars total)


Melancholy And The Infinite Sadness…

Sorry, Billy Corgan, I ripped you off; deal with it.

I’m in a very sad place today.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize that someone you look up to and respect is just as flawed and fucked up as you are?  Sometimes the things that comfort you in their normalcy end up slipping out from underneath and all that’s left is emptiness.  I know that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to anyone but me.  Suffice it to say that a dear friend is going through a very rough time right now and the fact that their world is shaken up makes mine seem all the more tenuous as well.

They say that sometimes the weight of another’s troubles can be dispersed just by talking about them; I find that they actually doesn’t dissipate, they just gets transferred to the shoulders of the person you told them to.  When someone that you perceive to be a rock falters, it makes you wonder exactly how solid your own foundation might be.

I am so incredibly alone in Toronto.  I’ve lived here on and off for most of my life, but about 9 years ago the only close family I have up and moved to BC.  For a while I didn’t mind being on my own, but the older I’ve gotten, the lonlier it feels.  Around the time I was ready to leave and move to BC myself, fate dropped the Everyman in my lap.  It does have a way of fucking around with the best laid plans, doesn’t it?  There was a time when I thought maybe if I went he’d come with me; I now know how utterly idiotic that idea is.  You can’t solve your own problem by creating the same problem for someone else.  And there was a time when I used to think that the Everyman could be all the family I needed.  But the Everyman is a complicated person (and in the words of a stupid Friends episode; ‘one unlikely to take a wife’).  Most of the time he’s silent, and while he’s always here, he never seems present.  I love him so much but that doesn’t make up for the fact that I desperately miss my family.  Some days I think I would give anything just to see them all in the same room together.  Most days I realize how entirely unlikely it is that it would ever happen again.

Several days ago I awoke with a few words from The Farmer In The Dell inexplicably stuck in my head; the cheese stands alone.  Lately, I think I am the cheese, standing alone, waiting for someone who’ll never show up and care for me.


Hail To The Greek (Freak, That Is…)

Yesterday was the big day.

I plucked the Greek Freak from the branches that it’s called home for the last two months.  It didn’t look like it was quite ready yet, as it still had a bit of orange around the top, but there were other areas that were starting to develop black spots, so it was then or never.  Overall, the whole roof is starting to wind down and I’m pretty sure that any unripe produce up there is going to be wasted before it has a chance to fully ripen, but here’s hoping I’m wrong.

For this momentous occasion, we changed our meal plan to accommodate the tomato.  The Everyman happens to love toasted tomato sandwiches from his childhood, so I whipped out the bread maker and set a quick loaf of white bread to bake.

An hour later the bread was steaming, the bacon was cooked, and the tomato was itching to be sliced.  I weighed it on my kitchen scale and was not surprised; it came in at 1 pound 4.5 ounces.  With a little slather of my homemade butter and some salt and pepper, the sandwich was ready to be eaten.

Oh, was it ever!  It was the perfect combination to showcase the absolutely amazing flavor of this delicious beast.  If I wasn’t a believer before, I certainly am now.  It was such a good sandwich that we each indulged in two.  The only thing that made it better was knowing that the other Greek Freak plant has 6 more tomatoes on it that are already turning red too, so more sandwiches are in store before the month is over.

[Delicious food sigh]

Enjoy the pictures of the scene before the carnage!


This Is The End, My Only Friend, The End…

This time of year always depresses me slightly.

This morning I awoke to what I thought was the middle of the night, all quiet and inky-black.  Only, when I looked at the clock, it turned out that it was 5 am.  The days are already getting a little shorter, the mornings a little cooler.  Before you know it I’ll have to wear a jacket to leave the house, and retire my open toe shoes for another year.

I spent the first of (probably) many hours this weekend getting the garden ready for fall.  That meant cleaning up the dying plants, disposing of the spent dirt, and picking the fruit and vegetables that were ready before the frost.  The Greek Freak is starting to turn red, but every day we get closer to the inevitable frost that could easily take my plants before they are ready.  I had to pick Pruden’s before she reached her prime because her skin had split down the middle.  She certainly wasn’t prolific either, as she put all of her energy into that one tomato.  And my Montreal Melon fell off it’s stem when I picked it up to give it a sniff; so I guess I just lost my chance at an 18 pound melon…

I think that this time of year also distresses me because the garden is starting to die.  Soon, all the plants will be dead and gone, and I’ll have no idea what to do with all my spare time.  Rest, I guess.  Or dream of next year’s plants with my seed catalogue in hand.  Come January I’ll start planting my seeds indoors, but until then, I imagine it’s going to be really quiet in gardenworld.

Alas, sometimes I wish I was still at home, in a climate that allowed me to garden year-round.

Until next time…