It is September already? Oh my! Labor Day usually means the end of summer but this year is certainly strange. School has started but only virtually here in California. Our holiday visitors usually go home in September but many of them are still here, living in hotels because the smoke and fires have driven them from their homes. Fall is our scary season because of warm weather and dry vegetation. We can only hope the winter rains start early.
This month is also the anniversary for this blog; started on September 26, 2014. At the time I had been recently laid off and was looking for a way to connect with others who had an interest in cooking and gardening. Little did I know how much it would expand my vision of the world. And how many lovely people I would come in contact with in the course of the next few years. My first post was titled When life gives you cucumbers… It is rather a fitting title for this year as well although perhaps I would change it to be something other than cucumbers. At least they taste good.
This month’s In My Kitchen will be a combination of July and August since I missed last month. In actuality September’s In My Kitchen is a review of August since September has only just begun. October will be a review of September.
So what’s been happening In My Kitchen?
An abundance of produce has meant preserving as well as meals that consisted mainly of vegetables. I was away for the first part of August and my assistant gardener (AKA husband) did a lot of harvesting. As a result I came home to 10 pounds of fresh beans that needed eating or preserving.
I blanched and froze several pounds for later in the season.
We ate several meals of green beans:
And I made several pints of quick refrigerator pickles (it was too hot to bring out the big hot water canner).
My assistant gardener harvested daily but, as usually happens, there were missed zucchini.
I intended to stuff this one but the fridge was bursting with produce that needed to be eaten. My worm bin got it in the end.
In My Kitchen I also have or had a half flat of figs from a local grower. I made Balsamic Pickled Figs and Brandied Figs (although I didn’t have any brandy so I used Cointreau). The leftover balsamic brine was reduced and added to some of my homemade red wine vinegar. It is adding a wonderful sweet note to salad dressings.
We also ate a number of them out of hand or in salads with candied walnuts, blue cheese and arugula.
Balsamic Vinegar Figs
- 1 1/4 lb of Black Mission Figs, gently rinsed and dried but stems left on
- 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 1 1/4 cups of sugar
- Sterilize 4 pint sized canning jars
- Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan big enough to hold the figs. Bring to a boil.
- Add the figs to the brine and lower the heat to simmer gently for 10 minutes
- Add the figs to the jars and pour the brine over, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top.
- Wipe the top of the jar and put on the lids, finger tightening
- Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Once complete, turn off the heat but leave the jars in the water for another 10 minutes.
- Remove and let cool on a clean tea towel. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal.
Please refer to additional canning instructions (there is an abundance on line) if you need more details.
Don’t throw away the extra balsamic brine if you have extra like I did. I reduced it and added some to my red wine vinegar…oh yum! It is fabulous in salad dressings or drizzled over simply sliced tomatoes.
My kale was starting to bolt when I got home so I made a batch of kale pesto and froze several serving sized bags of blanched kale for winter soups.
Our CSA box has contained a lot of beets, both red and golden. I canned several jars of pickled beets from each.
On the way back from running an errand we saw a sign that a fishing boat at the docks had fresh albacore tuna for sale. You had to purchase an entire fish but they cleaned it for us. We had a lovely dinner of fresh grilled tuna and I froze the rest in appropriately sized portions. I’ve been freezing in vacuum packed bags so I have the choice of cooking them sous vide or thawing and cooking in another manner. The vacuum packing prevents freezer burn. I’ve found that I can cook most items, still frozen, sous vide and retain all the flavor and texture of fresh food.
Last night we pulled out some frozen lamb steaks, cooked them sous vide at 136 degrees (still frozen) for 3 1/2 hours and finished them on the BBQ. They were delicious and perfectly medium rare.
It’s finally tomato season, something I look forward to all year. In addition to my own garden tomatoes I purchased a flat of heirloom beefsteak tomatoes from Nye Ranch, just down the street.
We have been enjoying all kinds of tomato salads or big slices in sandwiches.
This salad of tomatoes with stone fruit and a seed drizzle was a big hit.
And finally In My Kitchen we had a wine tasting. This was a pre-release tasting of Pinot Noirs from the barrel. Navarro Vineyards in the Anderson Valley has a big farm barrel tasting each year for their members. It’s a lot of fun with wonderful food and wine. Of course, this year they had to go virtual. My husband and I got to taste 4 of their 2019 Pinot Noirs (the tasting was not virtual…maybe in more ways than one). Anyway it was great fun to chat with the owners and winemakers over Zoom and taste it with them. Here’s a picture of our tasting room set up in the kitchen with our tasting notes.
Sometimes I think it’s fun to go back and look at what was happening a year or more ago…
I didn’t write one in 2018 or 2017
In My Kitchen – September 2016, we were preparing for a hiking trip in Ireland. Oh how I miss traveling.
I hope you are all well and safe. This post is part of a monthly gathering of bloggers from around the world hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. Click on the IN MY KITCHEN link and you can read what’s going on in kitchens far and wide. And please consider adding your own post to the mix, I would love to hear what you are doing in your kitchen this summer (or winter).