So right after my last post, I went outside, and cut about 40 big leaves off my kale plants–always from the lower part of the stems. In between making and eating breakfast and washing dishes, I washed the leaves in groups of ten (by variety), and chopped them up, then washed them again in a salad spinner, which they filled up.
After doing the first batch, which used a lot of water, I figured out that I should save the wash water and bring it out to the garden, where I put it on the kale plants! Then I spinned the kale pieces to dry them, and sautéed them in our big cast iron pan. I had to start with about half of the batch, then add the second half after the first had cooked down a bit. I had green curly kale, red or purple curly kale and a double batch of lacinato kale. After sautéing, I cooled them in a bowl in the refrigerator before putting in bags. On the recommendation of other online gardeners, I used a straw to pull out all the air in the bags.
I still have plenty outside on the plants, but now I have these in the freezer. Ten leaves only filled half a bag, at about 1/2 an inch thick. That would be about three or four servings in our house, so this is a total of 12-16 servings. This winter, I will see how they taste.
[Photo by Margy Dowzer]
The kale has gone crazy this year! I eat some every day, and we’ve given a lot away, but it is still up to my waist in abundance. Not to mention the basil plants, also a few feet tall. Harvesting has always felt like the most challenging part of gardening–how to keep up with everything the earth is producing. I see posts of friends who are canning and drying and freezing–that is all still something I need to learn more about. I search online for instructions, so information is not the main issue–just the time and energy to keep up with it and carry it out.
Most of our garden this year isn’t even to that stage yet–the fruit trees and bushes are still babies, the asparagus is in its first year. And perennial herbs will keep coming back each year, whether I harvest them now or not. In fact, I’ve got thyme drying in the basement, and will probably do some oregano after that is done. I finally dug up the garlic that I had planted as companions to the fruit trees to help keep away pests. But I especially feel a responsibility to the annuals like kale and basil. This is it for them. And they are shining.
Last week, I experimented: I sautéed a dozen large leaves of kale, which cooked down quite a bit, and then I froze it–it only filled a small part of a plastic freezer bag. I should be doing that with whole bunches of it, but it takes time to wash and cut and sauté and cool and bag. We’ve been eating basil this week–especially yummy with an heirloom tomato we bought from the coop. I learned not to put it in the refrigerator, but to keep cut stems in a vase with water.
For now, I just want to say thank you to the earth for creating such abundance! Give me the strength to receive and cherish and preserve your gifts. I’d better get outside and harvest some more!
Equals the gift of free food? Margy and I went to Winslow Park beach yesterday and visited our favorite apple tree. It was surrounded by ripe apples on the ground.
We have gathered apples from this tree in some other years–but in November. And never so big or abundant as these.
Our friend Bob made delicious applesauce at our house that November. The best applesauce ever! (Well, recently, our friend Susan gave us a gift of homemade applesauce that might compete for that title of best ever.)
We scooped up a couple dozen apples, and carried them in our pockets back to our car, and then to our house.
Back home, we turned on some music (Eliza Gilkyson’s Beautiful World), put parmesan chicken in the oven (Johnson family recipe), sat at the island counter in our kitchen, and cut and cored the apples. We cooked them in a pot with just a bit of water. Nothing else needed. Then we sat down to Christmas dinner, with hearts full of gratitude.