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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A nice kind of conversation

Yesterday was our closest brush with frost so far, with a low of 36F, so Risa's thoughts have turned to chutney. There are zukes, cukes, green tomatoes and apples in varying states of non-storability, and Beloved brought home three boxes of jam pint and half-pint jars for her to play with. So today is play day.

Risa's running the grater over a mixing bowl, grating a zucchini, a cuke, an apple, an elephant garlic clove, an onion, four green tomatoes, and repeat. When there's about a gallon and a half in the pot, with about two quarts of homemade vinegar, a cup of molasses, some brown sugar, a small handful of sea salt, and a handful of dehydrated greens, she cooks it all down a ways, does a taste test, adds cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika until she's satisfied, and cooks off a lot of the moisture, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Another approach, in case she can't hang around to stir, is to cook it down in the crock pot(s).

Sometimes there's stems, such as from broccoli, chard, cabbage or kale leaves, or celery; these Risa dices up very small with her cleaver and precooks them in the zapper before adding them to the chutney. Green tomatoes that moosh too much in the grater may get the cleaver treatment as well. She's never seen the need to use electric gadgets for this sort of thing. In cold enough weather, she does the cooking part on the wood stove instead of an electric burner. That electric stove thingy runs a serious amount of juice.

The densest material today is the green-zuke-skin part. When that reaches palatability, she takes the pot off the burner, puts the canning kettle on, fills the jars, runs them for about 18 minutes at the boil, and sets them aside to seal.

Risa looks through the steamed-up kitchen window. Leaves are drifting down from the cottonwood onto the blueberry patch, which is aflame with our only real fall foliage so far. Camouflaged by the cottonwood and blueberry leaves, California quail are visiting, sifting through the mulch for small bugs and other tidbits.

The jars are sealing. "Tink," one says. Another replies. It's a nice kind of conversation.

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