What to do when it's coming out your ears
We've been overrun with produce lately. I'm not really complaining. It's just what happens around here each summer. Luckily, year after year I seem to find a way to dig out.
Lately I've been contending with zucchini and regretting, a bit, the three hills I planted in our home veggie garden. According to my friend Chelle's dad, half a hill of zucchini is too much. I'm beginning to agree. Zucchini management, which, if you're curious, involves shredding and bagging and freezing a lot of zucchini, takes a lot of time. One of my plants grow a giant squash that, alone, produced nine cups of shreds. (Honestly, I'm not sure if I should be proud of that or shamed by it . . . ) I suppose the upside is I can make my favorite zucchini bread all winter long now.
I'm about a third done with my annual applesauce project of working through 50 pounds of akane apples. A few weeks back I dealt with 15 pounds of pickling cucumbers (it's going to be a pickle-themed Christmas this year). And last week, I also made my first-ever batch of blackberry jam, which yielded six little jars of pure gold. Dad got one for his birthday, but I will not be sharing the rest. FYI.
I bought a 20 pound box of peaches not long ago that I was going also going to jam (we ate our first box that came over the mountains from Walla Walla with friends), but again we ate most of them. Maybe I'll try again next week, assuming I can still get some good peaches at the farmers market and that the applesauce is behind me.
This summer's deluge is also due, in part, to our CSA share, which we've been enjoying for the last 12 weeks -- sadly, just six more weeks to go. I got my bulk share of basil from the farm and had to make pesto for three days straight. Now I find myself peeking into the freezer sometimes just to see the line up of bright green jars.
I use the pesto all year long to dress pasta as a base for spicy white beans and greens -- something we eat often during colder months. Mine is a version of this recipe, using lacinato kale instead of the escarole.
Large-Scale Basil Pesto
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2/3 - 3/4 cup finely shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or more depending on your taste)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
6 - 8 ounces basil leaves and stems, washed and mostly dried
pinch of ascorbic acid (to help it hold its color)
Combine everything but the basil in a food processor and process until well combined. Add the basil in three or four batches, processing until the leaves are chopped small and the mixture is fully combined and emulsified. If not using immediately, store in a jar in the fridge (or freeze it) with a thin layer of olive oil on top to keep the air out.
Makes about three cups.
On Friday, I made all this worse by picking blueberries while visiting my parents in Oregon. Somehow I came home today with 40 pounds of beautiful late season Rabbiteye berries -- Centurions and Powderblues. I'll keep about half of them and share the rest with my sister and friends who haven't had time to pick their own this year.
I'm sure I can think of at least 20 ways to use mine. For starters, it's blueberry buttermilk pancakes for breakfast tomorrow . . .