Summer Solstice 2013

Apparently I do pulled pork on Summer Solstice. Who knew?
I made it last year, accompanied by a few veggies and herbs from the container garden. Last night, I made it again – slow-cooked with rhubarbicue sauce, this time, and served with steamed farmers’ market peas.

It’s been chilly and breezy of late, with a lot of rainfall – all of which are fine and dandy (although it slows germination somewhat) – which are good for wanting to warm up the apartment (which is much shadier than our last one), but none of which bring on the feeling of summertime the way bright sunshine and high heat can.

This year, the solstice comes when the moon is yet a few days away from full. The strawberries have started showing up at the farmers’ markets and the Local Section of a nearby grocery store (YAY!) and I’m keeping an eye on things, wondering if I want to make strawberry jam (as opposed to strawberry-rhubarb jam) this year. (I have a number of recipes from which to choose, all of which look delicious… so I probably will). I might see about doing frozen strawberries, though, which will be nice to have for smoothies and baking later in the year. Failing that, The Plan is to go and glean/raid as many service berry trees as I can find (on crown land or… otherwise) in my neighbourhood – although given that the NCC just planted fruiting service berries all along a new bike path that’s all of five minutes from my house, I don’t think I’ll be raiding people’s yards on this front, at least not this year. That should get me a few berries for fresh eating and, I hope, enough to throw in the freezer as well. The black mulberries and sour cherries are also ripening nicely, but they all grow in people’s yards, so we’ll see what I can actually do with those ones.
 
In other news: I spent a chunk of yesterday evening de-cluttering my kitchen. It’s far from “clutter free”, I realize, but it’s much less covered-in-junk than it was before. It’s kind of a huge relief to my eyes to have all my empty canning jars neatly stored inside a cupboard (and, therefore, out of sight), but it’s also kind of mind-boggling to realize just how many canning jars I actually have.
My hope, of course, is to fill them all again, with an eye to how my wife and I (and our various People) actually eat. For example, I’ll probably do more tomato-based preserves this summer because I did a lot of cooking with tinned diced tomatoes over the past year and have found them to be (a) tasty when used in moderation, and also (b) an extremely fast and easy way to get vegetable content, flavour, and colour into a done-on-the-fly pasta dish when we don’t have a lot of time for prepping and eating dinner. I’m also planning on doing Rhubarbicue Sauce again, and adding more fruit-butters to my cupboard[1]. I may or may not make cranberry curd this year (sacrelige!) and probably won’t do all that many chutneys because I tend not to use them (I’d rather have peach butter than peach-appricot chutney, I’m afraid, but I can see adding ginger and cayenne to my peach butter recipe…). I do want to try (again) to make a tomato-peach salsa, though. Even though last year’s attempt made for the blandest salsa EVAR, I think adding more hot peppers will help with that immensely and I do enjoy a good (thick – mine was kind of watery…) salsa with corn chips, so worth trying again. I will be doing garlic-dill cucumber pickles again – even though we have three pints left – because I know that we’ll eat them, because everyone I give them to loves them to bits, and because I probably won’t be doing pickled beats or pickled rudabaga this year (although I could be wrong!), which means our pickle-cravings will have to be met with cukes and cukes alone. Or possibly cukes and jalapeno-dilly-beans. Or something. :-)
 
The plan for Summer Solstice Weekend is – alas – not hanging out at the Nude Beach, barbicuing delicious local food and floating around the lake on a rubber dingy with all our friends[2], but will, instead, be spent doing a Big Switcheroo with some stuff in our apartment and some other stuff that’s currently in our storage locker.
Perhaps I will take it as a sign of forward thinking and the cyclic nature of the seasons[3] that one of the main things we’ll be bringing into our apartment is a chest freezer. This bodes well, I hope, for being able to sign up for a Meat CSA or a half-pig share or something.
 
Wish me luck getting this place in order!
 
 
Happy Solstice,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I like the slow thickening of fruit butters and how they need less sugar than jam (in large part due to the lack of pectin, I think), and how they taste more powerfully of the fruit they started as, rather than tasting a little too much like candy (not that I don’t enjoy candy, it must be said) in the way of sweet-fruit jams and jellies. I also love their velvety texture and what it adds to baked goods when used in lieu of sugar.
 
[2] That was a reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally good weekend. :-D
 
[3] Cause I’m totally that kind of gal. ;-)

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