We had scheduled last night to butcher chickens, but by the time last night rolled around, there were few things I wanted to do less than have my hand up the backside of a bird all evening. Instead, we made pizza and cocktails--much more appealing than defeathering and evisceration.
The weather has been so beautiful that it's been easy to keep on top of my kitchen and garden chores. There have been peppers and tomatoes and eggplant and swiss chard and potatoes and brussels sprouts and squash on top of the bushel of apples that were gifted to us. The harvest is plentiful in September, which means much time harvesting in the garden and much time in the kitchen making sure the produce is put to use and doesn't spoil.
We have jars of this apple butter and even more jars of the pumpkin butter recipe from The Preservation Kitchen that is so scrumptious that we are officially dating. The chard harvest elicited a superior pizza of spicy sautéed chard leaves with bacon and corn relish. And, in the spirit of stem-to-root cooking, I have a jar of the most colorful pickled chard stems.
We have bags upon bags of brussels sprouts because I didn't listen to my husband when he said twelve Brussels sprouts plants might be too many for a family of three. The problem is that I feel the number of plants I have in the garden of a given item must reflect the amount of love I have for that item, so we always have a bumper crop of brussels sprouts and eggplant.
The pepper plants are finally producing so we had our first batch of peperonata. It's one of those dishes that doesn't last long around here because I love it on everything from pizza to sandwiches or just warmed with crusty bread. I've gotten more adventurous with my eggplant crop this year, mainly because I haven't been in the mood to stand over a skillet of hot oil. This eggplant jam was beyond what I expected and this baba ganoush is currently in the works.
We have a freezer full of blanched and roasted tomatoes along with the ones in the refrigerator that are for immediate use. I've had sliced tomato with mayo and parsley in a whole wheat pita everyday for lunch this week in order to really feel like I'm embracing the season. There are three jars of dehydrated cherry tomatoes packed in olive oil and a batch of pickled cherry tomatoes, which work nicely in the recipe for this Queen Mary cocktail I found in Booze 52 (a column devoted to cocktails on the Food 52 website) as I discovered last night in lieu of my planned chicken butchery.
Maybe I needed several rounds of cocktails and pizza because it's been a long week of gardening, preserving, cooking, and mothering (apparently fully potty-trained almost-four-year-olds can have serious regressions?). Maybe I knocked that task down a few notches on my to-do list because, let's be honest, staring your meal in the eye as it dies takes courage that easily wanes. Maybe it's because each year I grow attached to the crowing and glamorous plumage of the heritage roosters. Regardless, the reality of the situation was quite clear this morning when I went to the coop for morning chores and saw one of those exquisite roosters doing something very less-than-exquisite to one of my seasoned hens. The chores this week will entail more time in rubber gloves and less with the water-bath-canner.