I am still without a computer this week. Please forgive any strange autocorrects. I finished harvesting all of the green, unripe figs and preserved all of them as whole, sweet figs in spiced heavy syrup. As I made each subsequent batch, I grew a bit horrified by how much sugar these were using. So I’ve figured it would be wise to use this syrup as part sugar/part water in future baking. I began by trying out a spice snack cake recipe. This actually took care of 2 problems in 1 go. Not only did I use some of the syrup, but I also used some of the preserved figs in a way that my family loved. I puréed a half-dozen figs in some syrup and used in place of puréed pumpkin in a snack cake recipe. I then cut the sugar in half and subbed syrup for water in the recipe. The cake was delicious. Even my sometimes picky husband said the cake was very good. On Saturday, 1 daughter and I will pick all of the crabapples. I’ll extract the juice, using some in jelly and some mixed with commercial apple juice and spices for hot spiced apple cider.
Remember last week when I mentioned my green pumpkin in the garden? Well, guess what? I found a second green pumpkin hiding under a shrub at the edge of the pumpkin patch. So I may end up with 2 green pumpkins to experiment with. Such a pleasant surprise!
I don’t know if you know this, but the leaves on Brussel sprouts are edible — not just the sprouts. I’ve been mixing these leaves with other garden greens this month. Then Wednesday, I used only Brussel sprout leaves as a sautéed leafy green veggie. The leaves have a nice texture, neither tough nor too chewy, but still a substantial and satisfying texture. Brussel sprout plants can yield more food in leaves than sprouts in many varieties. Yet many people throw away the leaves.
The photo at the top of the post is of my indoor radish green operation. I’m growing radish greens under lights to use in salads and cooking in early November. The “pots” were made with gallon plastic milk jugs. I cut off the handle and spout, leaving a 4-inch or so base in which to fill with soil and plant with seeds. I used a corkscrew to puncture drainage holes in the bottom before adding soil.
What I like about using milk jug bases as planting containers —they are free, and they are square in shape. I can fit more planting area beneath the limited lighting space using square pots compared to traditional round growing pots. They seem to be doing well. I add a new pot of soil with seed as we finish drinking a jug of milk. I need just 1 more empty milk jug to fill out this growing space under the lights.
The weather experts say this October has had temps more like what we typically see in November. I believe them. To combat the chilly temps, we’re all dressing in layers, plus I’m keeping a pot of hot tea in the kitchen all day for anyone needing a quick warming up. I make a large pot with 1 teabag of black tea plus a tea ball of herbs from my garden that I dried in summer. One of my favorites is peppermint and black tea. The other herbs I use in tea are black currant leaves and berries, lemon balm, cherry stems, and lavender— all are delicious on their own or when blended with black tea. And all of the herbs are free to me from my garden.
I’m also keeping myself physically active, exercising whenever I feel a chill during the day. I encourage all of my family members to move more when they’re cold, too. This winter is expected to be an expensive heating season. So we’ll be doing what we can to stay warm without breaking the bank.
A funny aside on the cool temps — the activity monitor on my phone added a new activity category. At the top of the info is a listing for “downhill snow sports distance”. I’m not sure if I accidentally enabled tracking of my snow sporting activities or this was added by some algorithm, but I find it entertaining every day as I track my steps.
Despite the chilly and wet weather, the bunnies return to our front and back lawn every afternoon. They are so adorable! I totally forgive them for munching on my garden this summer. Watching the bunnies is our free entertainment each day.
One quiet, rainy afternoon, I sat down to remove seeds from the pods I’d been drying indoors. My work went something like this. With my mug of tea and a large piece of junk mail spread on the kitchen table, I brought several containers of various pods to pop open. One daughter entered the kitchen seeking a snack and asked, “whatcha doing?” Me: I’m getting next year’s garden seeds for free. Daughter: Cool. Next daughter enters the kitchen: What’s going on? Me: These are next year’s seeds. I’m popping open the pods to get them out. Daughter: Can I help? Me: Sure, just put the seeds in this envelope. Husband hears us girls gabbing in the kitchen and comes down for tea: Is this a party? Me: Just getting next year’s garden seeds, all for free! We popped open radish pods, bean pods, and pulled nasturtiums and spinach seeds off the dried vines — an idyllic sort of afternoon.
I have now collected seed from nasturtiums, radishes, spinach, green beans, bell peppers, petunias, and marigolds to use in next summer’s garden. These seeds are in addition to the seed potatoes and garlic cloves that are ready for next year.
This afternoon I’ll be baking pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies to frost and decorate Saturday afternoon. This is an October tradition in my family that goes back over 30 years for us. I almost skipped them this year then received a special request to do them again. I don’t really need a bunch of frosted cookies around, but maybe my family does for their sentimental value. Traditions — the things, rituals, and activities that uniquely bind each family together.
How was your week? Does it feel like fall in your neighborhood yet? What were the highlights of this past week?
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!
One other post — Cheap & Cheerful Meals