Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dog Days of Summer/Winter Prep


We are currently celebrating the Dog Days of Summer at the Tiny Taylor Ranch.  This time of the year causes a person to think about the upcoming winter.  Thoughts of preparation run around in my head, like a chicken chasing a bug. 

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are growing round and plump.  Gradually, they are turning yummy crimson red that only tomatoes can produce. Looking at them brings memories of juicy BLT's and thick slices with mayo, salt and pepper.

While we wait for our tomatoes to ripen, we made a deal with a friend from Ogden, UT to procure some tomatoes for canning.  He was passing through Evanston with the leftovers from a Farmer's Market.  His family were going to the Uinta's for a backpacking trip that day.  He would have had to throw the leftovers away.  I could not let that happen, now could I?  I offered to pay for the whole load.

He gave me the entire load for FREE!  Yes, I said FREE!

After I gave a large amount to neighbors and friends, I have been canning like a crazy person.  So far, we have 12 pints of salsa and 12 quarts of tomatoes.  Tonight, 1/4 bushel of jalapenos will be sliced and bottled.  We love these on nachos, atop Mexican food, or in stews.  The rest of the week will be spent canning a half bushel of Anaheim peppers and prepping two large zucchini squash for freezing. 

The Anaheim peppers will be bottled whole with the side slit and the seeds removed.  Preparing the peppers in this manner makes creating chile rellanos simple and quick.  They can be used in Green Chili Casserole, Three Bean Chili, or give zest to a beef stew.

Freezing zucchini is a great way to save this summer squash for use in the winter months.  Our favorite Christmas gift to give to our neighbors is a loaf of homemade zucchini bread.  We have always gotten rave reviews for this yummy gift.  Freezing the squash in airtight containers helps to alleviate any freezer burn.  This method also keeps the smells from the freezer from infiltrating the produce.

This time of year invites the domestic queen to come out of this working mom.  It blesses me with the desire to take care of my family, clean my abode, and get ready for the upcoming glory of a Wyoming winter.  The Dog Days of Summer are a celebration of what has been a glorious summer and what will be a fabulous winter to come.