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From the Garden this Week, September 23, 2021...

From the Garden this Week…

Corn, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Sweet and Hot Peppers, Okra, Mixed Greens, Basil, Garlic, Apples, Peaches and Plums

Coming Soon…Winter Squash

Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno

It’s time to capture summer and do our best to save it for the cooler months. With all of the basil available, the best way to save this is to make pesto and then freeze it. If you have old ice cube trays, freeze the pesto in the trays then remove the pesto cubes and freeze in bags or containers until ready to use. You can pull out as many cubes as you need when ready to use. My second recipe is for pepper jelly, which is a sweet way to save our peppers. I included an Asian style eggplant recipe which is full of flavor, using ginger, garlic and soy sauce to soak in to the eggplant. Even though this is an Asian recipe, you can use any variety of eggplant that we grow.

Asian Style Garlic-Eggplant

2 tablespoons oil divided

2-3 eggplant, cut into cubes

2 sweet peppers, diced

2 cloves garlic finely minced

1 red chile pepper finely minced

½ inch knob of fresh ginger peeled and finely minced

2 green onions, sliced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When hot, add eggplant in a single layer. Cook 2 minutes and stir, cook another 2 minutes and then stir occasionally until the eggplant is cooked. The eggplant should have changed in color, the skin wrinkled and the flesh soft, about 8 minutes. Add the sweet peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Push eggplant and peppers to the side of the pan and add 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic, red chile pepper, ginger and green onion. Stir these aromatics until they become fragrant. Combine aromatics with eggplant and stir fry for one minute. Add soy sauce, vinegar and sugar and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Decorative Produce

Thanks to Lori Pecchenino for the photo of her fabulous autumnal centerpiece featuring our organic wheat spray.

Sweet and Spicy…

With all the peppers coming from the garden, I’m ready to make pepper jelly. I like mine spicy and, in the past, have used all jalapenos, but you can combine our hot and sweet peppers. The combination of colors makes for a beautiful presentation. Serve it with cream cheese and crackers for a delicious appetizer.

Hot Pepper Jelly

4 cups chopped peppers, sweet and hot, to your taste

½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

½ cup water

3 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl, divided

1 box SURE-JELL For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Premium Fruit Pectin

Clean 6–8-ounce jars, with lids and bands. Place sweet and hot peppers, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Mix ¼ cup of the sugar (from the 3 cups) and pectin. Add to pepper mixture in saucepot; mix well. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 2-3/4 cups sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Cool and store in refrigerator or process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath if storing at room temperature.

My husband and I walked out our front door Monday and found that a 15-year-old Chinese Pistache tree with a gorgeous, well-proportioned crown of branches and leaves had split down the middle of the trunk and lay bending over our white, three railed fence. We were shocked. Miraculously, the entire severed half of the tree had slowly and gently bent over the fence without breaking it. There was no outward sign indicating a decaying or sick tree. What had happened? Looking down into the tree center, large menacing splinters stared at me like medieval impaling stakes. I took pictures of its exposed heartwood revealing a large, dark black spot and yellow discoloration that started from the crotch of the tree where the large branch had peeled off.

I sent the pictures to an arborist and was surprised when he said the rot was not from insect infestation or tree disease. The culprit was a benign substance necessary for life - water. Over the years, an extra branch had grown from the crotch of the tree and, together with the other main branches, had created a deadly reservoir. Water and rotting debris from the tree had created the necessary conditions for a mold or mildew to penetrate and weaken the entire center of the tree. The lesson became clear to me when my arborist friend told me that this limb could have been pruned early on to ensure the crotch received its necessary drainage.

How often I resist pruning! I find cutting things out of my life very difficult indeed. Something as simple as cutting back on unhealthy foods can feel like a monumental task. Yet, over time, even life sustaining food and drink can “pool and become deadly,” felling our human trunk through Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease. Pruning is a sober act worth practicing, an intentional discipline worth cultivating. In the end, we are healthier, more fruitful, and certainly more productive. In the end, we might save a tree or another precious life.

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” -- Hebrews 12:11


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