I Just Can’t Stop

September 16, 2010

Obsession is my word for the day, and obsessive I have become. After staying out of my kitchen for close to three months, I seem determined to end this season with as many jars of veggies, soups, jams and butters as is possible to make. I am not sure if this is part of my second trimester nesting (with one pregnancy I planted an entire English garden, and another I knit 11 sweaters), or if I am just truly this crazy every harvest season.

It has become a yearly tradition to gather in mid-September with a group of friends to visit a local farm and pick veggies and fruits. The generosity of this family of farmers is incredible, for your entire picking experience and an abundance of fresh food is only $10. This was a special year as well because a friend’s husband watched our kiddos while she and I boarded the hay truck to begin a 4 hour process of picking (the kiddos had a blast playing with snakes, frogs, tractors, and corn mazes). We had needed some girlfriend time, and the hours in 96 degree heat digging in the earth for onions, tomatoes, carrots, etc. went by in a flash.

We left the farm with over 70 lbs each of vegetables, and again my husband’s eyes rolled back into his head when he asked me just what I planned to do with this much food. This year I had a plan, and one that I am sure to stick to. I want to freeze such things as the green beans, and make fresh poppers with my jalapenos, but for the most part, I want to make stocks and soups.

I love autumn and winter soups and stews, but I a not a fan of the price of boxed stock. I felt like having the opportunity to make fresh stock was worth every onion and carrot that I picked, and yesterday saw 13 hours of doing just that.

20 quarts of vegetable stock were made, 22 bags of green beans and 13 bags of carrots were frozen, and 6 different soups were made and frozen for the coming cool months ahead. Tuscan white bean and sage, tomato and carrot, savannah bisque, broccoli, chicken stew and corn chowder have all been put up, and I have a growing list of new soups to try in the coming weeks.

I am only half way through the bounty we picked, and I am trying to keep the momentum going. I have to say that I am glad that canning season only lasts a couple of weeks, and that we are coming up on the end. The only thing that I can think of that is left are apples, and those will be ready to begin next week. Perhaps then I can get back to sewing and knitting.

These first few weeks of school have been spent almost entirely out of doors, and I realize that so much of this summer was spent in a blur of nausea and morning sickness that I fear my boys may not remember it too fondly. I am trying to make up for that with as many late summer picnics, hikes, and star watching moments as I can manage. The weather has stayed very warm as we approach early autumn, and I secretly hope for a few more weeks of this perfection before the cool weather truly sets in.

Picnics with the Elk, fresh soups, a slow moving river and the slightest tinge of gold in the trees. Autumn is shaping up to be a very good season indeed.

Veggie Stock

1 onion cut into quarters
4 carrots peeled and cut into huge chunks
1 apple cored and cut into large chunks
2 celery stocks cut into large chunks
10 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic chopped

Put everything into pot and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and place in a clean jar to either use, freeze of process at 10 lbs pressure for 35 minutes in your pressure canner.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

GinnySheller September 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Wow Heather-I am really impressed! I lost my momentum weeks ago! We just have too many things going on at once and I gave up on canning.

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Lisa Q September 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

those elk look so surreal sitting there like that. I had to do a double take….wowza! Love all the bounty you've been putting up! you'll love having that baby on your hip and a jar of soup ready to heat up! good for you.

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Michelle September 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

What a lot of work. You'll be so glad you did it in the coming months. Our weather has been well below normal for weeks. We had to wear gloves for our morning walk the other day!

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Lynn September 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm

You're a star! May I come over for a canning tutorial? >;-)

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Kristi September 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm

70 pounds? That is awesome! I totally need to try the whole pressure canning thing, though I'm not sure our pressure cooker is large enough. But we definitely do not have enough freezer space and I've got a fair bit of veggies needing used.

Do you know of any orchards where you can pick your own apples or pears around here? Going to an apple orchard with the whole family as a kid are some of my fondest memories and I'd love to do that again!

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samthehamsmom September 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Heather, good for you! Oh, and the Elk picture is just surreal. I love it!

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Healing Hillary September 16, 2010 at 6:40 pm

ME TOO! I have been in a canning/freezing frenzy over here. Stocking up. I think the combo of pregnancy and the turn of the seasons must be pretty powerful for me.

I have made absurd amounts of jams, pesto, apple pie and soups. Now I have apple sauce and apple butter this week and tomatoes to make into sauce. I have dreams of many other ideas…most of which are soups. DH has started investigating shelving for our garage for all of these canned goods, lol.

Just trying to stay focused :). The 70 lbs. of veggies kinda sounds like heaven to me.

Glad I am not alone in this :)!
Love.

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ItsLily September 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I'm delighted to hear you are feeling better. Ugh! I did not like morning sickness (she said with a shiver).

I too went on a canning/freezing/putting by frenzy. It just seemed like the thing to do and I feel so good when I look at the shelves full of canned fruit and the freezer stuffed with yummy deliciousness just waiting for cooler days. Won't that be wonderful?

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kbernadette September 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Good to see that you're making Savannah Bisque. I just got what I need to make a few big batches. I'll have to try it with your stock recipe.

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Missy September 16, 2010 at 10:12 pm

You are such a busy mama these days, no wonder we have not seen you in so long!

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Susan September 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Just love that nesting instinct. Were you near the fire?

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netc23 September 16, 2010 at 10:41 pm

that picture with the elk is amazing. wow

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Jennifer September 16, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Wow! You never cease to amaze me! For the past couple years, I've been thinking about canning and making jams but just haven't made the leap. One of my favorite things about my pregnancies was the nesting instinct/energy. Enjoy it!

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Jodi September 16, 2010 at 11:51 pm

You are absolutely amazing! I'm so impressed with your energy. On a good day, I don't think I could accomplish half of what you have managed. You are going to be so happy some cold winter morning — and it will be worth all that hard work.

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Michelle September 17, 2010 at 1:12 am

That is fantastic! Good for you! Nothing is nicer than doing work you enjoy and it literally will pay you back all winter long!

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Kollene Carlsson September 17, 2010 at 2:51 am

lovely photographs…. and wow, what a lovely blog!

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Valarie September 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Looks like autumn harvest over there. As inspired as you are I cannot motivate myself to cook lately. I'll be making your corn chowder today with some fresh baked bread. I hope the harvest bug bites me soon. lol Be well friend.

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denise September 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm

you will be so glad for all your efforts when the baby comes.

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clarice September 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I hope next summer you post feedback on what you felted you were happy with and what you were not. It took me a few years to fiquer out what worked for our family. Clarice

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Anna September 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I'm in awe of all you have accomplished. I am definitely running out of steam. In the Spring, I am all about the planting, but by Autumn I'm sort of all done. Still bringing in loads of tomatoes and squash from the garden, but barely managing it.

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agambroult September 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Heather, i am completely obsessed too! I usually do can a few things each year, but I have brough it to a whole new lever this season. I have to emit, i don't think I have quite as much as you, but I have some big plans yet to come into fruition. Apples, more tomatoes…

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geek+nerd September 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

Oh Heather! I've probably said this many times before, but boy are you a girl after my own heart! Love this post.

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