The Summer Wind-down, Mammoth Sprouts, & My Obsession with Food

Summer is winding down, and I’m eagerly anticipating the first cool breeze of fall. I love everything about fall, except it’s inevitable descent into the snowy winters of Southern Ontario. Snow is only nice at Christmas, and when you’re on holiday from work. I am glad, however that there are still many weeks more of fresh produce from the backyard. Speaking of weeks of produce, my tomatoes are still ripening like mad. I can’t believe how many there have been, even with one of the plants flopping over and breaking and a few others looking precarious. I’ve been handing tomatoes out to friends and family and am looking forward to sharing some more (and still eating some myself!) – so come over! I’ve realized this year that my schedule doesn’t really allow for me to moonlight as a canner/preserver – so I’m either freezing my leftovers or giving them away. Maybe next year, I’ll have some more time. I did make strawberry jam and red currant jelly earlier in the summer, but it doesn’t count because I got the fruit at a pick-your-own place. The questions is, can you can Brussels’ sprouts? I may have to…..

I planted four of these guys in the spring and have been watching them grow with delicious anticipation.  I never imagined that the plants got so large, however. Four of them take up half the raised bed which to me is maybe not the best use of valuable real estate. I have no idea how much each will produce, and haven’t even had a good look to see how many are growing on each stalk. Oh, but I simply cannot wait to have the first ones. There is truly nothing more delicious than a roasted brussels sprout, crisp and golden brown with a coating of olive oil, coarse sea salt and freshly-ground pepper. Roasted brussels sprouts, served alongside a wild-rice stuffed oven-roasted squash and perhaps a balsamic glazed chicken breast? Heavenly. (Oh, and something chocolate for pudding).

In planting news, I planted some more greens this week. We haven’t had any in July or August, since we harvested all of our lettuces as micro-greens during the cooler spring months. Can’t wait to be eating home-grown arugula salads soon!

I know this much about myself – I am truly obsessed with all things relating to food. This comes as no secret to those who know me. I take 10 cookbooks at a time out of the library and read them on sleepy Sunday afternoons, before I go to sleep, while I’m waiting for Dave to get off work so we can drive home, and on my lunch-breaks. I also get a cooking magazine, read food blogs, and page through my own collection of cookbooks when I’m looking for a way to relax. Perhaps this year’s gardening experience is a necessary extension of my culinary passions. I’ve learned so much about how my food grows and the care that is required for a lot of things to grow really well. It’s an incredibly rewarding thing to grow the food that ends up on your plate.
A happy sunflower.

A happy sunflower. For some reason, these guys face away from the sun.

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
– May Sarton

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