Preserving Fall: Pickled Red Onion

It has been my experience that, when life gives you lemons, it’s best to make pulled pork. I’m not saying that lemonade isn’t delicious, but the generous unctuousness of pulled pork cannot be rivaled, mid-November, when everything about one’s life is beginning to look a little dark and gloomy. Tim and I recently discovered a recipe that is wonderful in it’s sheer simplicity (and phenomenal flavour) in my old, father-donated copy of the Joy of Cooking. It’s funny as I almost never open that cookbook anymore and then, at dinner the other night, my friend Catharine mentioned how she always finds every recipe she needs within it’s hallowed covers. And honestly, she’s right, this cookbook is one I can always fall back on. All to say – check out the recipe for pulled pork. It’s a goody.

My favourite way to serve pulled pork is in a taco. I like to heap it up with a yummy vinaigrette style coleslaw (not being a huge fan of mayonnaise on my salad), and then pile on some pickled corn, or what have you. Recently in a Bon Appetit, however, I remembered noticing pickled onions and I thought…hmm…now doesn’t that sound delicious! So a few days ago, when we had the charming Meagan over for dinner, I thought – let’s make a pulled pork and pickle some onions to go on top. Friends: I don’t often call myself brilliant, but this dinner was made for lovin’.
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Preserving Fall: Green Cherry Tomato Chutney

For the past week it has become more than obvious that autumn, even winter, is upon us. As if from nowhere the leaves have fallen from the trees, the days have grown shorter, and in the morning I can smell frost on the air. This time of year always makes me want to hole up in our apartment snuggling with the cat, an extra duvet on the bed, and a cup of tea in hand.

Life has been far from calm, however, and instead full of Tim’s school, house guests, Thanksgiving parties, and the general joys and challenges of life. To be honest, in the past few weeks there have been days that have felt overwhelming. Tim and I both have the habit of tearing off more than we can chew on a regular basis. Things like: deciding to throw a party for 17 people when we don’t have a day off a whole week in advance and Tim is scheduled to fly until 6:30 the day of. And yet somehow it all comes together. We bake pies until 1 am the night before and then it rains and Tim stays home to help with the turkey. I am learning, day by day, to take more in stride and believe that if I allow the chips to fall as they may, it still might all work out in the end.

Not to be outdone, we’ve managed to get a good amount of preserving done as well. Last week, in an effort to start cleaning up the garden before winter, I harvested our cherry tomato bushes of all the remaining green fruit. In the past, I’ve just let this fruit go to waste, telling myself that was all for the best, but not this year! This year I hunted on the internet, talked to friends, and then discovered in my copy of Tart and Sweet two recipes: one for Green Cherry Tomato Chutney and the other for Pickled Green Cherry Tomatoes. I was lucky (?) enough to get almost 7 lbs of cherry tomatoes and managed to supplement with some green romas we also have hanging around on our bushes. It was a bit of an epic canning evening, as Tim can attest, but well worth the effort.

We haven’t been able to try the green cherry tomato pickles, but let me tell you about how we have tried the chutney. This chutney makes me think of big bowls of Indian food, though I’m certain green tomatoes are not standard Indian fare. But the layered spices in this recipe really bust out a move on your taste buds. I hope you enjoy it too!
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Preserving Summer: Canned Marinara Sauce from Food in Jars

Last Monday Tim and I had planned to have a date night. Life has been pretty busy since September started and I hadn’t had a free night for awhile. We talked about walking around Stanley Park, checking out Trout Lake, and then I remembered the 10 lbs of roma tomatoes I bought at Santa Barbara over the weekend. They were pretty ripe when I bought them and it occurred to me that, as I didn’t have another free night coming up, I was going to have to deal with them right there and then. I’m a pretty luck lady because when I told Tim what I was fretting over he agreed to help me can those tomatoes as our date night. What a romantic…?!

I’ve already canned 200 lbs of tomatoes this summer, just quartered in juice, so I wanted to do something a bit more exciting with these. In my copy of Food in Jars, I discovered a recipe for Marinara sauce that Marissa mentioned she likes to use on pizza. As it always seems like every time Tim and I want to make pizza, we don’t have any sauce, this was the perfect fit. There are, however, a plethora of other recipes in this book that I would love to try. The Rotel Tomatoes, for example, sound fantastic.

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Preserving Herbs: Chimmichurri

All week I have been able to taste fall on my fingertips. In the morning the air is so crisp that sweaters have become a necessity and I have started to dream of fall vegetables and warm pots bubbling on the stove when I come home in the evening. Tim, too, has headed back to class and school has brought with it the scent of freshly sharpened pencils and new year beginnings.

The weather, however, doesn’t seem to have heard the message. Though the mornings are cool, every day has been hot and sunny, more beautiful and clear than any day this past June or July. At the farmer’s market this morning it felt like every family had turned out en masse to enjoy the day. Trout Lake was full of babies, dogs, parents, friends; dear, happy people basking in the glow of the September sun. After picking up herbs for today’s project, Katie and I sat on a log by the lake talking through our lives. It was delicious: the feeling of all that light absorbing into my skin. So when I got home, ready to start working, I realized that the last thing I wanted was to be cooped up in the kitchen. The cat was in agreement so we headed out into the backyard. I suggest that you too do this project outdoors if you can. It doesn’t need a hot water bath or even a jar, it just needs a little time and patience, a knife, a bowl, and a cutting board.

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Preserving Summer: Canned Peaches

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about how little I’ve posted here this summer. The truth is that I’ve been so caught up in life, that I haven’t had as much time to put aside for hours of canning pleasure. Vancouver gets about 8 weeks of sun a year, and I have been enjoying every single one of them. Can’t feel too guilty about that, can I?! The photo above, for example, is from the wedding of my beautiful friend Kelly who was married on Quadra Island recently. Out of internet range, I spent a morning sitting on the dock, the ocean breeze in my hair, while I delved into a fabulous novel. It was so peaceful.

Indeed, there has been so much laughter and love this summer; time spent connecting with all the people I love and remembering how lucky I am to have them in my life. My dad is always saying that there are no mistakes in life, just different paths you go down, but there have been times in the past year when I’ve wondered about all these paths. Might there have been a better one for me? But this summer – honestly, if this is where my choices have led me, then how can I be anything but one lucky girl, y’know?

Two weeks ago, Tim and I headed to Kelowna to visit some of his family. I always love Kelowna: it’s a dessert, so the heat is dry and the sun is strong; we spend the days antiquing, visiting wineries and going to the most amazing farmer’s market. That’s where Tim and I picked up 22 lbs of peaches for canning (after eating delicious crepes – oh lordie!) These peaches were soooo good that we forgave them for not being freestone. We had to can up all that delicious flavour (though we kept a bit aside for sorbet). I am sad to admit that with all we canned we only got 6 jars, so I’m planning a second batch this coming weekend. I absolutely NEED more peaches in January. No question.

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Preserving Summer: Sweet Cherries in Red Wine

This summer feels like a rush to the finish line. Sitting here, typing this, and realizing that it is already July 29th, has me a little bowled over. Not only because it a few short days I’ll turn older, but also because it feels like there’s still so much to get done. Raspberries, blackberries, corn relish…let’s be honest…I’m a bit behind on the canning front. However, all that is about to change! Beginning with cherries.
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Preserving Spring: Honey Rhubarb Compote

As a child, I ate a lot of rhubarb. My dad would send my brother and I out to the garden, cups of sugar in hand, and we would sit in the warm Ontario sun dipping stalks of rhubarb into the sugar and tearing at it with our little teeth. In retrospect, it may not have been the healthiest treat for those teeth, but it remains one of my fondest childhood memories. As an adult, however, I kind of forgot about rhubarb. That is until I started frequenting farmers markets and became curious about what I could do with rhubarb in my grown-up life.

Of course, the obvious answer is strawberry rhubarb jam. But, to be honest, I think it does a disservice to rhubarb, which deserves to be showcased all on its own. I do have a pretty passionate relationship with the rhubarb rosemary jam I made last year. But sometimes, I don’t have enough time to go through making jam. Enter, compote.

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