Hello, September

Hello, September. You snuck up on me. Again.

(Excuse me while I jump on the food blogging bandwagon and talk about the end of summer for a minute. I promise not to mention pumpkins or bemoan the sorry state of beet and potato-only meals. Yet.) 

The thing is, it’s like I have annually occurring amnesia. Suddenly summer’s visa has run out, and fall is right behind with a green card application (or reddish/yellowish/brown card, as it were). 

(As Shakespeare put it - slightly more articulately - “summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” I don’t think they had green cards in Shakespeare’s day or he might have liked my metaphor better. Or as Frost muses “Nothing gold can stay.” But I digress) 

Last week’s 80 degree days already feel like a memory to be tucked away until next May June July. As I walked around Greenlake this morning with a friend (two laps actually, with two different friends. Gold star!), I kept my long sleeves pulled down and looked up into the trees to see a light dusting of red settling on the leaves. I was sort of in denial. It’s like I talk about fall coming, school starting, but then I’m shocked when it actually does.


Today I readied my garden to be put to bed and planted a few winter crops (to keep me going when it starts getting dark at 5, I eat at 5:30, and by 8:30 I'm fast asleep on the couch because I refuse to actually get in bed before 9.) As the summer harvest wanes, there are still lots of tomatoes and greens to be had, and even a few zucchini. I made breakfast entirely from the garden in a last ditch effort to keep summer around a bit longer. I’ve told you about my breakfast hash before, so I’ll spare you the “un-recipe” details, but I will say there is something tremendously satisfying and indulgent about eating a meal made up solely of things you have grown yourself (with the help of Norma The Chicken of course). I even resisted the urge to sprinkle Parmesan on top to keep the meal purely and unadulteratedly local. Uberlocal. (I think I’ve just coined a new word…)

This afternoon I finally ripped out the zucchini plants, made pesto with the last of the basil, and tore out the long-since dried up pea stalks. I spent the evening planting overwintering greens (to support my kale habit). I went with four kinds of kale, bok choi, beets, and swiss chard. I like to dig my hands deep into the dirt, no gloves and no shoes, and I usually track as much dirt into the house as Luka does after a romp in the yard. I like it that way, packing the dirt in under my fingernails and getting close to the food. (I also can't be bothered to go find gloves as I usually garden on a whim - I start pulling one weed and I get sucked into a whole project.)

I’m already getting excited about everything-to-do-with-apples, mulled-wine season, and yam mole enchiladas. I really am a Northwest girl at heart, far more comfortable in the cozy grey of rain than in the hot, insistent sun.

So welcome, September. I think we’re going to get along just great. 

If you find yourself with a surfeit of tomatoes still (I know I do!), I highly recommend making some tomato jam. I have been the beneficiary of this recipe several times, though have yet to make any myself. Give it a try! It’s delicious on crackers with some sharp cheddar. 


Tomato Jam

(Adapted from Food in Jars)

You’ll have to do some experimenting with amounts as it totally depends on how big a batch of jam you want to make, which will depend on the level of tomato surplus you’re experiencing.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes of all varieties, from your garden or the farmer’s market

Sugar (quite a bit, but not so much it tastes like ketchup)

Lemon or lime juice

A bit of freshly grated ginger

Cinnamon

Ground cloves

Salt (to taste)

Red chili flakes or cayenne (to taste)

You can also try different spices to your liking, depending on what you have around.

1. Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot or skillet. 

2. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. 

3. Stir it regularly as it simmers, between 1-1.5 hours, until it has totally cooked down to a “a sticky, jammy mess”

4. Can using a water bath canner.