Grasping at summer


I’ve never been one to usher in the arrival of fall with whoops and cheers, eagerly abandoning the over-ripening tomatoes and mammoth zucchinis for early apples and taut leeks.

I know the fall produce season is a good long one, so these days I overlook the (howbeit, beautiful) bushels of oval Roma tomatoes at the market, and pass over the heaps of Spartan apples in favor of yet another basket of peaches, a flat of berries (perhaps the last for many months), a dozen ears of corn, and the largest bundle of basil to be found.

Back in the kitchen, I turn the basil into pesto and freeze it in muffin cups for use during the winter. The boys hunker down by the compost pile and shuck the corn for me, so I can cut it off the cob and add it to the freezer as well.

I serve up salad after salad for dinner, followed by generous slices of melon, which we all -even Clara- eat until the floor under the table is sticky and the rinds are heaped on our plates.

I understand that autumn’s arrival is inevitable. I don’t pretend to ignore the landscape of school supplies spreading across the buffet. I’m aware, painfully so, of the faint tint of gold on the leaves in the back forest.

Even today, as we picnicked with lemonade and cookies on the grass (an undeniable attempt to salvage summer), I felt a chill in the air. Clara’s bare feet felt clammy. And I shivered even though the sun was shining.


Yes, August hangs by mere moments, but I’m choosing to live in them, deliberately.

On Sunday I cannon-balled off the diving board at my in-laws, amid shrieks from my boys. I let myself sink to the bottom of the pool, relished the cool quiet, then surfaced in the sun. Perhaps it would be the last swim of the season.

I stripped Clara naked and dunked her in the clear blue salt water as well. She’s only going to have a soft teeny dimpled bottom to appreciate for so long. At five months she’s sitting and nearly crawling. In as much as I’m aware of the season’s turning, I’m as painfully aware of how quickly she is growing up, transforming from infant to little girl.


Christmas products are in stores and holiday baking is starting to plaster Pinterest, yet I’m firmly stuck on summer. I’m buying up stone fruit and baking desserts like Vanilla-Biscuit Peach & Plum Cobbler, which Danny and I consume together after the children are in bed, our spoons congenially scraping the bottoms of our bowls together.

The best way I can come to terms with the approaching autumn (and subsequent winter) is to preserve the summer season in jars. This week I roasted trays and trays of peaches slowly in the oven, and as they perfumed the house, they reduced into a thick, rich butter. I seasoned the butter with a dusting of fresh cinnamon, tipped it into hot jars, and gave them the hot water canner treatment for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, the pints of cinnamon-peach butter join the other jars in my pantry: sweet zucchini relish, pickles, cherry-plum jam, strawberry jam, blueberry butter, sliced peaches, cherries in vanilla syrup, and more.

Slowly, one jar at a time, I am conceding the end of summer.

Strawberry Season Recap


They came and went in a flash. Not gone entirely, I suppose, as late varieties still linger at the markets, however when I pulled up at my local U-Pick I was told the strawberries were finished. That was the beginning of my raspberry picking adventure, and another story altogether.


Before the season was over, I did manage to get a few berries tucked away for winter, with the help of Mateo, who washed and drained the lot. He is most enthusiastic about this summer berry, and couldn’t care less about the rest.


Not all the berries went into the freezer; we made sure to feast on them along the way.

First up was a creamy, dreamy strawberry-buttermilk lassi: berries, ice, buttermilk, a sprinkling of sugar unless you like it tangy. Blend. Drink.


There must be roasted strawberries each season, jarred up in their own juices and frozen. For crepes. For cornmeal pancakes.


On they day the strawberries were roasted, I tucked several into a panini along with fresh basil and a few squares of chocolate. Summer lunch at its best.


Ice cream was made, strawberry-sour cream ice cream, at that. Two little boys pulled up stools and watched the pink cream freeze and take on shapes.

It was so good, I made two more batches that week.


And of course, jam. First a Honey-Strawberry Jam, then a Strawberry-Rhubarb Orange Jam from the new Food in Jars cookbook from Marisa. It will go down in history as the very best straw-rhub jam I’ve ever made, with its perfect consistency and balance of sweet and tart.


Strawberry season may be over, but I’m still canning. It’s Canning Week over on Simple Bites, kicking off with Sweet-Cherry Plum Jam, and continuing with Marisa’s sultry Peach Barbecue Sauce. Come join the party.


What are you doing with summer berries?

Preserving Autumn: A Canning Series

It’s back! Our Canning 101 series on Simple Bites returns to feature the gorgeous produce of autumn.

With posts every day and a star-studded line-up of contributors, this series is sure to inspire you to put up some of the seasons flavors for year-round enjoyment.

Jennifer kicks things off today with not one, not two, but three amazing recipes for homemade pizza sauce. Her method for pizza sauce with oven-roasted tomatoes is my new favorite recipe – smokey, sultry and oh-so-simple.Curious as to why we’re spotlighting canning so often around here? Here are 9 Good Reasons to Can Your Own Food, an article I posted earlier this month highlighting the various motivations home canners have for what they do. It’s a list nearly anyone can relate to – including Time.com, who quoted from the post in a recent article on simple advice for saving money.

In our canning series on Simple Bites, we’ll be featuring apples and tomatoes, two favorites of the season, preserved in simple ways. The series will run all week, so be sure to stop by every day and be inspired!

A Fall List


This autumn, in no particular order, I want to…

  • Pick apples, eating no less than three in the process and climbing the tallest ladder to get above the branches and gaze across the entire orchard with the sun on my face.
  • Plant garlic for spring, which will require having garden plot ready to receive them. And so…
  • Build at least three raised beds by the fence, under the weeping willow. Oh, and give that thing a haircut.
  • Source an organic turkey and roast it for a group of friends. Serve with homemade applesauce. Which reminds me…
  • Make gallons of blush pink applesauce and can it. Use Cortland apples.
  • Watch my son turn 5 and burst with pride while simultaneously holding back sobs.
  • Visualize and execute a ‘rocket cake’ for said birthday. (Help me!)
  • Shoot a family holiday photo — with no attempt to top last year’s masterpiece.
  • Visit the open air market as often as possible just to gape at the seasons bounty.
  • Roast many sugar pumpkins, turn them into puree and bake up a storm.
  • Purchase way more produce than we can possibly eat at that market, then invent ways to fit 8-10 vegetables into a meal.
  • Watch our back forest turn all sorts of mapletastic colors and collect leaves with the boys.
  • Wear a wool sweater and a pretty scarf.
  • Buy two pear trees and plant them in the back yard. Name them Adam and Eve.
  • Read a book, a good book. Maybe even one about dragons.
  • Serve a harvest dinner outdoors, highlighting local seasonal food.
  • Finish dinner with toasted cinnamon marshmallows around the campfire.
  • Built this chicken coop and research for chicks next spring.
  • Air out my down douvet and then replace my cotton quilt with it.
  • Make lacto-fermented salsa.


What’s on your fall list?

Wordless Wednesday: Details to come…