Friday, August 5, 2011

Basil and fig time

Still waiting on my new camera, but here are a few shots from my smartphone.  Now is the time for one of the best aromas in the kitchen (Mom said "call it an aroma, not a smell, if it is good").  Basil! Before the plants throw in the towel for the season, I pick all I can, remove the leaves from the stems, rinse them, and then chop them in the food processor with good olive oil.   The resulting blend freezes really well, and is great later in the season when you want the taste of fresh, not dried, basil.  I put mine into ice cube trays to freeze, then pop them out into a freezer container or bag.  That way I can take out one at a time when needed.  It seems each individual cube is just around a Tablespoon, the perfect amount for most sauces and soups!  I hope to get another batch for drying, so I keep picking off the seedheads in hopes the basil plants will continue to grow.

The main crop of figs, although a bit light in this drought year, is coming in.  We eat all we can fresh, and the rest I dry in the oven and then freeze.  Here you see a tray of halved and quartered figs on a parchment sheet, ready to go in the oven.  I set it on convection to get air movement, but that isn't necessary.  I set my oven just around 180 degrees F or so, and just check every hour.  This batch I had to dry for about 4 hours on day one, then shut off the oven that night and turn it back on the next afternoon for another 2-3 hours.  They are chewy and sweet and amazing.  Because they aren't fully dry they will mold, so I keep them in the freezer.  They last a really long time that way, and taste great when thawed.

I have ordered my garlic for the fall, and and getting ready to go through my seeds to see what I have and what I need.  I will have to buy transplants for things like broccoli, as I won't be able to get to starting transplants in time in year. Still picking Sungold tomatoes!