Friday, September 17, 2010

I have to point out how much of my cooking this summer owes a debt to my mother and her garden. There's been a bumper crop of excellent tomatoes and okra, and I haven't had to buy cucumbers, celery, beet greens, corn, broccoli, or squash all summer.  This was particularly helpful since half of my garden pretty much failed because the sandy, rocky soil in my front yard finally gave up the last of its nutrients.

But look, for instance, at some young celery from her garden - later in the season it was much thicker and just as leafy:

Look at how leafy the celery from my mother's garden is

You don't see this in stores - celery with this much leaf to it.  They trim it down.  But the leaves have a hell of a lot of flavor, and although the texture when raw isn't what you'd like (dry and tough), I've been adding them to greens and minestrone - and they'd be great in any soup, so I froze several Zip-Loc bags full of them.

The stalks themselves get tough pretty soon into the season, and by the end of the season they're just flat-out too tough to eat raw and take a much longer time to soften when cooking.  But the flavor is intense - and I don't think you usually think of celery as a flavor that can BE "intense" - and even picking a single bunch of celery and putting it in the car with all those other vegetables made the car smell like celery for an hour.  Again, I chopped some up and put it in the freezer, most likely for gumbo, maybe minestrone.

Because the flavor was more pronounced than regular celery, I also used some in this year's hot sauce: cayenne peppers, celery, onion, and a little tomato, pureed with salt ... and normally that's the point at which I would let it lactic-ferment for a few months ... but because of a brief-lived housefly problem, and the fact that the flies kept buzzing by the bottle, I wasn't comfortable letting it continue to ferment.  I mean, it was covered in cheesecloth - the flies weren't going to get in there!  But because I was trying to get rid of them, I didn't want to leave anything out they were attracted to.  So it only aged for a week instead of a quarter, and was then blended with vinegar and strained.  But it's a nice, nice hot sauce.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kudos!
    I heard the other day to put a small amount of red wine or vinegar in a glass, cover with saran wrap, poke alot of holes in the saran. The fruit flies get in the glass, are overcome by the fumes and can't get out. They drown in the wine or vinegar.