The Ant and the Grasshopper

August is Food Preservation Month.

No, no governor or president or board has made this pronouncement (or if they have, I haven’t heard); this is my personal pronouncement about what my mind tends toward when summer’s bounty is at its height in our little corner of the universe.

No grasshopper mentality for me–like a good ant, I’m getting my jars cleaned, my knives sharpened, and my freezer bags stocked to put food by for the long winter ahead.

In a food dessert, what else can you do?  Sure, things look bountiful now–but there’s a long season coming of no readily-accessible local food except what’s in the pantry or freezer or root cellar.

What snapped me into action was driving by my favorite chokecherry tree yesterday and seeing that the birds (and possibly the neighbor) had already picked it half-clean!

So after my final essay critiques that took me most of the day to complete, I swung into action with my buckets and full-coverage mosquito abatement gear and pulled about a gallon and a half of the remaining fruit from that tree.

That fruit will get washed and frozen in bags with a little sugar to use later on–I still have two bags left from last season, but there’s no sense in wasting this year’s crop because there’s some from last year still on ice. That, and I’ve developed a certain fondness for my chokecherry liqueur recipe.

Yesterday I pulled about a dozen summer squash from the patch as well, and with no market in sight, it occurred to me that I while we probably couldn’t eat all of it before the next big flush, I could get some of that in the freezer as well.

My favorite recipe for summer squash is to roast it with snap beans and a little sage.  While the snap beans aren’t ready, the pole shell beans are heavily laden–what’s a few pounds of the younger pods out of 90 row feet of shellers?

Then there’s the gallon of broccoli side-shoots I cut yesterday–that’s two or three packages to blanch and put up as well.  I guess I haven’t gotten my canning gear out yet (tomatoes soon!), but I will need to plug in the chest freezer within the next day or two.

There’s a good amount of clean-up that needs to happen before I can really settle into concerted canning and freezing–tomorrow’s project will be to clean the fridge and the aforementioned downstairs freezer.

Tonight’s dinner will help with the fridge project: I’m on my last few pods of sugar snap peas and there’s a bit of chard and an onion I pulled at the tail end of last week.

All that thrown together with a few of the beans I picked today, a summer squash, green pepper, a few sprigs of basil and six cherry tomatoes sounds like a fine feast with a fresh salted baguette.

Mmm–all those lovely colors and flavors! I might be an ant at heart, but I’ve got at least a little “sing the summer” grasshopper in me.


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