Cutting, Cooking, Freezing and Preserving

This past Sunday was a big day for preparing for the winter.  (Yes, a bit hard to grasp the concept of frost and mittens given we were on the heels of a heat wave that set records and nearly wiped out my bean plants.)  But nonetheless, like the friendly squirrels that run about our yard (and dig up my lettuce time to time in order to plant their acorns), I knew that summer harvests could be perserved for the upcoming winter.

My plan included cooking up a huge batch of minced meat with peppers, onions, eggplant and herbs so that we could have some for dinner this coming week but also so I could freeze enough for a few dinners come November.

Freezing Pesto in Ice Cube Trays

I also wanted to make multiple batches of pesto so I could freeze some for the winter by using ice cube trays and, when done, pop the pesto cubes into freezer bags. I used a number of pesto varieties from purple to green to varigated, resulting in different shades of pesto.

Further, my eggplant and green bean harvest surpassed our intake capacity, so I was excited to learn how to blanch and freeze for winter. So it was a big day and I was ready to get started.  I decided to start on the minced meat first.

The Bandaged Finger Injury

Nano seconds after I began to cut the eggplant, I cut my finger.  I quickly was transported to my little (well not so little as you will see when you gaze at the photo) burn injury on my calf from last week when I backed into the broiler pot that had just come out of the oven and had been placed on a foot stool due to the micro kitchen counter space I have. (I waited to post a photo until it was healing nicely to spare the reader.)

The Burn

With nothing more than  a 1960’s vintage wall air conditioner unit that blows only enough air to slightly cool down about half of the living room, the kitchen is always balmy (somewhere around 90’s throughout the summer).  Add a bit of cooking, a confined space, multiple pots simmering on different time schedules……and well, you get the picture: the brain is less than focused and “ouch!”accidents happen. So after bandaging my cut, I decided that I needed to practice mindfulness and focus on the task at hand.  Not an easy endeavor for a person like me. I am usually juggling multiple balls at once, while my mind darts from topic to topic.  I then start thinking about all the things that need to get done the coming week and get caught up thinking about world events. My mind generally wanders about while I am cooking. So to practice mindfulness, I took a deep breath and steadied by attention on cutting. Just cutting. Slice after slice of eggplant. I was in the eggplant moment…..

Green Beans Blanched and Ready for Freezing

Eggplant Blanched and Ready for Freezing

So I made it through the day with no further injuries. No cuts and no burns. The green beans and eggplant are frozen (thanks to the great step by step directions on the following website:  AND

As I was just concluding this blog entry, my husband Patrick called me to the window to see a very hot and tired squirrel lazing about.  Did I mention the intense head wave we are having here in Washington, DC?  I took one look at the squirrel and smiled. I am with you little squirrel and was ready to plop down myself after a very full day of cutting, cooking, freezing and preserving. And perspiring.


Peppers, Eggplants and Tomatoes, Oh, My!

A trip to the community garden this past weekend resulted in the harvesting of a few white eggplants called “ghostbusters,” a purple eggplant called “little fingers,” multiple beautiful banana peppers and a few tomatoes. Together with some garlic and onions from my last Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) delivery and mixed herbs from my patio garden, all of these fresh out of the garden wonders were chopped up.  Then the peppers, onions and garlic were slowly sauteed with olive oil until tender, then combined with brown ground beef and slowly cooked for quite a spell. Salt and pepper made their grand entrance to the mix during the cooking process. Using my lovely Le Creuset french oven pot, the eggplant was then layered with the meat/pepper/onion/garlic mixture and put in the oven for more slow cooking. Result:  Poof! yummy creation.  Well, more like a drawn out “poooooooooof,” given the slow cooking process, but you get the point.

This Week's CSA Delivery

I am so totally loving this summer of harvesting and cooking. Now I just need to get moving to find new recipes because this week’s CSA delivery arrived last evening and my community garden plot and patio container garden are both on the verge of an eggplant, tomato and green bean explosion. Oh. my!

“It Makes my Heart Happy”

First Tomatoes Turning Red

I stopped by my community garden plot this evening to check in. To my sheer delight, I had tomatoes turning red, eggplants growing and peppers harvest ready. It seems that the last two days of heavy downpours, followed by sun, helped the garden out.

As I left the community garden, a woman approached me. Gazing over the garden plots, she said that when she looked at all the things growing, it reminded her of her home country and how they grew vegetables. I asked her where she was from and she said, Ghana. We spoke excitedly about the power of gardening and farming and she said that in Ghana, everything her family ate came from their own plot. She asked how one could get a community garden plot and, concerned that she worked during the week, how much time it took weekly for me to keep my plot up.

I told her all about the process of getting a community garden plot through the county and how I tended my plot around my full-time + work schedule.  She then paused, gazed once again over the community garden, and with a joyful facial expression said, “It makes my heart happy to see this!”  I agreed. It makes my heart happy to be part of this amazing opportunity to plant, grow and cultivate from my own community garden plot. I got back in my car and as I drove away, we waved to each other and smiled, acknowledging the joy in our hearts.


Bell Pepper

Banana Pepper

Little Fingers Eggplant

Cubanelle Pepper