Eggplant Nightmares, Weeding, Etc.

Last night I had nightmares. This is why. IMG_5038

Help! Yesterday Dave harvested another 13 large eggplants that weighed 11.5 pounds in total to add to what was already in the prep kitchen refrigerators. My nightmare was not due to the fact that we had all these glorious, shining, purple orbs, but that I needed to get more creative about ways to preserve them since we use them as our ‘meat’ in our winter dishes. My research says that canning eggplant is not an option. Check it out, no grocery store has jars of eggplant available, do they? They also don’t really offer it frozen, but I think I will roast some today and freeze them. If anyone is interested in some, please drop by to collect some since I’m way too busy with preserving to deliver! But I’m jumping ahead of the order of things that happened today.

First, there was a great article about the tomato industry in the NYTimes today written by Mark Bittman, one of their regular food columnist as well as a popular author on food/s. I read it aloud to Dave and would encourage you to read it if you have access to it. He wrote about the California tomato canning industry verses the ‘fresh’ tomato industry which is almost entirely based in Florida and was the subject of the book we read last year called ‘Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit’ by Barry Estabrook.

Bittman actually decided to visit a tomato processing plant as well as the farming production that provided the tomatoes to that plant, not far from Sacramento, CA. We, of course, found this fascinating on many levels since not everyone can do what we are doing on a grow your own supply basis, but we all deserve to eat better while keeping the environment cleaner, and also pay the farmers and the hourly waged workers who process these crops from the fields to us, fairly. Check it out. I would copy the contents here but I’m not sure that is kosher. If anyone wants to read this story and cannot get it, e-mail me and I’ll send it to you, which is kosher. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/not-all-industrial-food-is-evil/?ref=markbittman&_r=0

The first chore we did today was to look at the tall, dead, pine tree that had finally fallen and landed in our side yard. IMG_5034

What you can’t see from this photo is that the tree was twice as tall as what you see exposed on this side of the brush. Dave will enjoy getting the chain saw out and cutting this up. Perhaps we can stack it for firewood since it is so dead ripe that it would probably burn well.

Next, we headed out to the blueberry and strawberry patches to work on maintenance. Both areas needed some weeding and watering. I would have photographed the before and after of the row of berries I was weeding but it would be too embarrassing to post, at least the before part! There is just never enough time in the day to keep this place weed free! So, we are kind of over that and just accept that we can do only as much as we can. Three hours later we both had piles and piles of pulled weeds to show for our efforts.

My observation for the day was that I saw lots and lots of crickets and grasshoppers in my area. Perhaps they were relatively safe in the tall weeds? But it got me thinking…what do crickets do? what do they eat? are they valuable to us as farmers? A quick on-line bit of reading tells me they are omnivorous scavengers who feed on organic materials, including decaying plant material, fungi, and some seedling plants. Apparently they mate in late summer, early fall, so perhaps this has some relevance to their presence today. I was just wondering since they were certainly harmless to me as I weeded along and did not seem to be harming our plants.

I ventured over to the melon patch and saw that we have countless (since I did not even attempt to tally them) of the Burpee Ambrosia cantaloupes. Image 8

In addition to that, there are many watermelons of two varieties. The first is the Bush Sugar Babies, which are sometimes referred to as a personal serving . I’m curious as to how they will turn out since they are not something one sees in the stores. IMG_5036

The other one is the Burpee Big Tasty Hybrid which is the typical, oblong watermelon of old. IMG_5037

The pumpkins have also set on with a vengeance which is great to see but they are still relatively small. No pics, but know that that will be coming soon! My mother reminded me today of her mother making pumpkin butter, something akin to apple butter? I will address the pumpkin volume when I see it come in!

After the morning of outdoor chores, my attention changed to food preservation. I decided to attack the eggplants by roasting them with cherry tomatoes and to freeze them for future dinners. IMG_5040

I managed to use 8 large eggplants and countless cherry tomatoes to make 4 batches of roasted veggies for future meals. This is a pic of two of the batches roasting away in the prep kitchen oven.

Finally, I should mention that Dave shared some produce totals with me this afternoon before heading out to harvest today’s bounty. He hands me a document entitled “Farm Report” just about every morning which summarizes where our numbers stand. This, he does, I think because he has a numbers brain but it is helpful for our analysis of the desirable vs. not so much in the veggie harvest. I should figure out a way to add a harvest weight widget to this blog, but don’t have the time to do that right now. But here are the totals from yesterday:

Total weight of 2013 harvest as of 8/17/13 was 764.141 pounds. Yesterday’s harvest was 30.578 pounds. The top 5 producers according to weight, were Cukes (all three varieties), at 221 lbs, Tomatoes (all 4 varieties) at 160 lbs, Strawberries (two varieties) at 159 lbs., Potatoes (two varieties)  at 74 lbs and Eggplant (one variety) at 73 lbs.

For tonight’s repast, I created a combo of eggplant, green pepper, onion and cherry tomatoes along with some spices to roast for a ‘sauce’ I plan to serve over noodles. Here is what it looked like before popping in to roast it. IMG_5042

One key ingredient is freshly ground pepper. Here is my source (Penzey’s)  and my tool for grinding. IMG_5043

Bon Appetite!

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