The cauliflower has ripened in our area. I’ve been waiting for this moment. On Saturday, Rob and I decided to make our giardiniera. Last year was the first time I had ever made it. It was hard to know exactly what recipe to choose because there were so many variations out there. We just picked one that wasn’t too sweet, made a few jars, and Rob loved it so much he was rationing it by January or February. We wanted to make a large quantity this year.
I sent him out to buy cauliflower from a farm stand, carrots from the restaurant supply place in a 25-lb bag, and lots of celery. While he was gone, I washed jars and picked all of the remaining peppers I could find. I also started peeling all of the tiny onions we had separated out into a box for this purpose. Some were only an inch or so, and some were larger. Those were cut into 1/4ths. When he got home, he kept peeling onions. That was time-consuming, but provided a way to use some onions that would have possibly gone to waste.
We may have gotten a little carried away. As I was cutting veggies, I just kept having to get more bowls because they were so full I couldn’t stir the veggies up. They were really, really big bowls. Rob quickly filled all the jars I had washed and needed more. I had to climb to the attic in the shop where we store “un-needed” jars and used every single one of my empty wide-mouth pints, except 2. I had to make batch after batch of brine. 18 quarts and 50 pints later…..well, needless to say, this project went on for about 10 hours. It’s a good thing I had Rob pick up another gallon of vinegar while he was out and about. I did get 15 pints of carrots canned in the middle somewhere….so that job is done now, as well.
The entire 25 pound bag of carrots was used, except about 2 pounds I saved for fresh eating. 4 heads of cauliflower didn’t sound like much when he called from the stand….Again, I saved enough for a meal to eat fresh but there was still a lot more than I thought.
It was a big project. I’m delighted it’s done. I’m really glad to know that no one will need to ration vegetables around here.
Yesterday, we stopped by a different farm stand where they had cauliflower for only $3 for huge heads.
Even the colored ones were only $3. I got 6. I cleaned, cut, blanched and froze 12 baggies of white and 16 baggies of mixed colors. This is about double what I froze last fall. We were completely out by a little after Christmas. Sometimes it’s quite amazing to think about how many vegetables we eat around here. It’s why I keep very detailed records. Otherwise I wouldn’t believe we could eat as many as we do.
You may wonder why I don’t grow my own cauliflower. I tried a few times. It turned out terrible. It was small, buggy, bitter, or didn’t grow at all. One time Lovana grew one nice one. Not me. So I support local farmers who have it down to a science.
Last, but not least, we needed to pick the basil and make our pesto before it frosted and possibly froze the bushes. That meant we had to do it yesterday. We did 2 double batches and got 2 ice cube trays full. It’s incredible how many basil leaves it takes. We don’t eat a lot of pesto, but we love having it on occasion. I already made some salad dressing with some of it. Yum!
I left some in case it didn’t die from frost just yet, but it’s on its last leg, regardless, and it won’t be long until I pull what’s left of it. I’ve been pulling other plants each week, but still have quite a bit of clean-up to do outside.
The weather has changed. We’ve had a fire in the wood stove several times now. It’s been raining occasionally, and did frost last night. I’m getting ready to snuggle down and do some inside tasks. Each season has it’s own set of things I enjoy, but I do have to admit I will miss being in the garden so much.