Food (growing it, cooking it, preserving it, eating it) is a big part of our life, but especially this time of year.
Lately, I've been gazing at our kitchen table and pantry shelves with adoration and gratitude. Our kitchen table has bowls filled with: the last of our homegrown garlic, some garlic from farmer's market, onions from a local farm, plums ripening from our tree out back, local honey, and pears from our neighbor. There's been winter squash in different colors and shapes. The pantry has baskets of pears and apples, jars of canned peaches and dried fruit. As the weather grows colder, food in the pantry feels even more welcome and appreciated.
Bracken helped me pick all the apples off the front tree over the weekend. (I picked them, then handed them to him and he put them in the basket.) We soon saw we needed a bigger basket.
The neat thing about that apple tree out front is that it has two varieties of apples on one tree. I separated them in the basket so you could see it better.
Every year about this time we buy a few hazelnuts as a special splurge. Recently we bought some raw ones and soaked them, then turned them into hazelnut butter with a little coconut oil and honey. It didn't last long. I went back to buy some more, but the only raw hazelnuts they had left were in the shell. The farmer said to put them in a bag and pound them with a hammer and they'd easily come out of the shell. I was leary because I hand-cracked a giant bag of hazelnuts one year and told myself I'd never do that again because it was so time consuming. But I thought of that hazelnut butter so I got some.
I knew pounding was something Bracken would like helping with, so we took out his wooden hammer.
We put some in a cloth bag and hammered them. It smashed the nuts to bits. Not what I was going for.
Hazelnuts are so beautiful, aren't they? Surely an autumn sight.
The hammer method was a fun experiment, but I'm back to wanting to buy shelled hazelnuts.
Bracken got his hands on some garlic and started picking it apart. A natural born garlic peeler.
Our neighbor gave us four giant boxes of pears from their tree. They told us they weren't the prettiest looking pears. But they are so incredibly delicious! They are the best pears I've ever had.
Last night we set to work processing them. Our food dehydrator is broken. Jeff had a good inspiration for how we could preserve them. He said we could make pear sauce and then mix it in with our applesauce when we can applesauce this year. It sounded good to me.
He also had a great inspiration for how to keep Bracken happy during our pear project.
Have we suddenly been transported to the beach? Nope, we're in Bracken's new sandbox in the backyard!
To say Bracken likes his sandbox would be an understatement. He had a blast playing while we made pear sauce right next to him.
We set up an outdoor work area. This is the same method we use for making applesauce, which I wrote all about in this post. We steam the apples before we put them through this 'sqeezo', but the pears were soft enough that we just cut the stems off, cut them in smaller pieces, and put them through. You don't need to take the skins off, it separates the skins and seeds for you.
Doing it outside was so nice because we didn't have to worry about making a sticky mess in the kitchen. We enjoyed the last of the afternoon light and then worked into the evening.
Jeff scrubbing the pears off.
Our wooden sauerkraut pounder came in handy for pushing the pears down into the squeezo.
We love this thing! Some locals gave it to Jeff years ago because they never used it.
Our little chipmunk friend came to visit us and was watching all the activity from atop the greenhouse. Here he is eating a blackberry. It was so cute the way he was clasping it in his little
It was satisfying as we emptied out the boxes. There are some pears still ripening in the pantry.
We froze the pear sauce until we make applesauce, then we'll add it to that.
The way Bracken shoves his face into the pears and devours them is so funny. Then to watch his smile while his chin drips with pear juice...
What food have you been enjoying friends?