Wow, we're in the eigth week of Simple Lives Thursday! I have learned so much and found so many new blogs though this effort. I hope you've enjoyed reading what we've been up to, and sharing what you're doing.
We are nose deep in harvest season, so I think it's appropriate to start talking about how to preserve all this bounty.
I'd like to tell you about a book that I recently picked up and its author.
Put 'em Up! is a collection of preservation techniques, from pickling to drying, for all kinds of foods. I was immediately drawn to the book by the variety of foods shown on the cover, and my gut instinct that this book was valuable was confirmed when I read the dedication; "For all the home cooks, who nourish family and friends, culture and tradition." The table of contents revealed some interesting looking sections, including "things that will surely get you into trouble" and some very intriguing flavor combinations and riffs on basic preserved foods, including cherry and black pepper preserves, fennel confit, roasted pepper ketchup, rhubarb soda syrup, and watermelon agua fresca.
I picked up my copy at the best bookstore around, Prairie Lights, and dug in. The book is smartly laid out with a small section in the beginning outlining the basic preparation techniques (blanching, vinegar and fermented pickles) and preservation methods (freezing, drying, canning) used throughout the text.
The bulk of the book is composed of creative recipes organized by the type of food, so when you have lots of rhubarb on hand, you'll quickly find six different ways to use it up.
I picked up this book because the author, Sherri Brooks Vinton, will be visiting the Iowa City farmer's market next Saturday, September 4th. She'll also be involved in the Field to Family event sponsored by the Johnson County Local Foods Alliance. You can see more about her book tour schedule here, and you can read my post about last year's JCLFA Culinary Walk here. If you live in the Iowa City area and care about food, come out and experience what the city has to offer.
Frankly speaking, I don't buy new books very often. I have many that I haven't read yet, and most books I want to read are well-suited to being checked out from the library. I've written here before about the books I keep related to food, and I don't add pieces to that collection very often. That said, I think this book is one worth purchasing and I expect to use it this season. Could you find all the information contained in it on the internet? Yes, with some effort. Is it worth $19.95 to have all this information organized and available in paper form (rather than on a laptop screen, which you want nowhere near food) in an attractive way? I think so. I think the print medium has been sold short in recent times. It is still necessary and important. So grab a copy and let me know in the comments whether you agree.
Finally, I'd like to leave you with some links from my blog for all kinds of preserved food.
I am writing this post to commemorate what will go down as one of the most perfect Saturday's in my personal history. Since it's summer, my weekends tend to be jam packed with friends, family, and food. This weekend was a rare opportunity for me to have a whole day to myself and I was determined from the start to make the most of it by squeezing in all the fun stuff I love to do but don't always make time for. Combined with a little luck, this Saturday helped me begin this fall semester relaxed and refreshed.
We started the day off right by walking to a local bakery to get iced coffees and pastry. After we picked out our food and getting our drinks, we went to pay the cashier. She looked at us in an odd way, turned her hand up at my debit card and said, "oh, no. You're good". I was more than a little confused to find out the woman in line before us had paid for our meal.
Nothin' like the kindness of a stranger to put a little spring in your step! The hubs and I walked off to another of my favorite things: a garage sale.
After the sale we biked downtown to enjoy a little Sand in the City and some mediocre street food. We had a nice little nap before I ran to my favorite Goodwill, where I lucked into two gorgeous skirts and a plethora of designer flats, in my size, in perfect condition. These are the Jeffrey Campbell bow flats, which I expect to wear to death, and is not to mention the Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, and Lulu Gunniess pairs I also snagged.
After my exciting thrift trip, I came home to start a laborious but simple dinner of homemade pasta and tomato sauce made entirely from the garden with a little CSA squash on the side. While there were a lot of steps involved, each one was easy and prep work is its own special kind of relaxing. Since I'm trying to continue my self-indulgent streak, no recipes, just photos.
Today I'm going to update you on everything that's coming up in the garden. I have worked very hard on tomatoes, and they're finally paying off. Here was my evening with some very good friends.
A small beet.
Here's some kale, some friends, and my dog.
This garden has produced so much joy, and we've already canned 12 quarts of tomatoes for the winter. We've been eating little bits from it every day, especially kale, and going to the grocery store much less.
This week has been a busy one for me. I just got back from a road trip to Kansas with my husband, brother-in-law, and dog.
We stopped in Kansas City for some road food at Ingredient, a restaurant that requests you donate to charity or do something for someone else instead of tipping.
We had so much fun hanging out with his beautiful grandmother and living like retired people.
We played lots of cards.
Hung out with the grandkids.
We spent our days waking up early, taking naps, reading books, staying up late drinking beer and talking, passing around the guitar, and eating light meals from local seasonal produce.