A Locavore’s Fall Daze

Autumn is one of those times when my schedule shifts from hectic to insane. The last weeks of the gardening and food preserving and foraging are in full swing, and so are my other careers, simultaneously.

One solution: a big pot of soup, i.e. not having to cook dinner when I get home. In this pic, it’s Japanese knotweed-sorrel soup, made with two wild edibles I stockpiled in my freezer this past spring and garnished with wood sorrel, still in season, and homemade yogurt. knotweed-sorrel-soupWhen I got bored with that I added sausage and chunks of steamed vegetables, and for it’s last appearance of the week on my dinner table, I turned it into a curry served over some of Cayuga Pure Organics’ local freekah grain.

On the gardening front, this has been a rough season. My plants had just recovered from last month’s tornado when we got hit with a severe hailstorm. The streets were littered with leaves; not the gold, red, and brown you might expect in October, but green leaves that had been knocked off the trees. For the second time in a month, I looked out into my garden to see flattened plants and shredded foliage.

This time I cried uncle and started putting the garden to bed a little sooner than I usually do. The basil and cucumber and tomato plants are history (the green tomatoes I harvested are still waiting to be turned into chutney), annuals have been pulled, container plants brought indoors to overwinter, and I’ve started cutting back some of the devastation from the storm.

No pictures of all that–too depressing.

Back to solutions: another thing that keeps my kitchen hopping even with the about-to-explode calendar is doing projects in stages.

For example, I had some CSA pears that were about to reach past-prime. A few nights ago when I got home I chopped them into chunks and put them into the slow cooker with the other ingredients for my favorite pear butter recipe. But I didn’t turn it on because they only have to cook for five hours, and I didn’t want to have to get up in the middle of the night to turn off the cooker.

The next morning I had a 7 a.m. work shift at the Park Slope Food Coop. I turned the slow cooker on when I got up. After the coop shift I had a garden client. When I got home from that I turned the cooker off. Then I left for several hours of Nutcracker rehearsal. When I got home from that, I pureed the now cooled,  gorgeously spiced and fragrant pears. Into the refrigerator. Last night, when I had a little more time, I reheated the pear butter and then canned it.

That might sound like a lot of work, but actually I didn’t spend more than ten minutes on it on any of the days with the exception of last night’s reheating and canning time (30 min. total, and most of that I spent catching up on email while waiting for the timer to go off).

And that’s how I’m keeping up, one big pot of soup and one stage of each food project at a time. I’ll thank myself in January when all I have to do is pop open a jar of that pear butter to spread on my toast.

pearbutterTomorrow I leave for Baltimore where on Thursday I’ll be leading a foraging tour here.

After that, I’ve got one more wild edible plants class coming up for Brooklyn Botanic Garden (last one of the season), as well as classes on Putting the Garden to Bed in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Check out the schedule here, and I hope to see you at one of the classes!

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