The End

There is a season for everything in the garden, and that is also true for this blog. Fall is settling in now, and as days shorten and cooler air settles in, it’s typically a time we put things to bed for winter.

I’ve been writing this blog for over seven and a half years, and in that time we have built a pretty amazing garden for food, flowers, and all the creatures that call it home. We’ve had plenty of successes and failures, and we’ll continue to enjoy it each year.

But nothing lasts forever, and even the most fruitful plants go dormant after a time. Now that I am writing full time for a career, writing for fun isn’t that appealing any more. And honestly, I think that I’ve shared just about all I’ve got in the way of advice, experiments and innovations.

The garden will still be here of course, and we’ll be in enjoying it in a variety of ways — just not publicly. Likewise, the blog will still be here as a reference, gathering dust on the shelf of the internet.

Thanks for reading.

Poblano Pepper Harvest

In addition to a strong harvest of chicken heart hot peppers, we’re also enjoying a bumper crop of poblanos:

(This isn’t even all of them.)
These did really well for us this year, and we’ve been using them instead of bell peppers in our recipes all summer and fall. We had to bring them all in this week since we had a frost warning, though, so now we have piles of peppers to use.
They’ll last for a while at room temperature, since they’re fairly tough, but to make sure we don’t lose any, we’ll have to roast and freeze them:

These have been roasted in the broiler to char the skins. (They probably could be even blacker next time.) Once charred, you let them steam in a bag and then peel off the skins. Once prepped in the way, we can stack them in a freezer box and use them all winter long in recipes. 
I used these four to make chiles rellenos. Since I am lazy, I didn’t batter and fry them, though. Instead, I put the cheese-stuffed peppers in a baking dish and poured an egg mixture over t…

Chicken Heart Peppers

This year we planted a different variety of hot pepper: hinkelhatz.
Hinkelhatz is German for "chicken heart," which describes the approximate shape and size of these peppers when they are ripe. The plants are prolific, and last weekend I harvested plenty from our second round of picking:

The hinkelhatz are the small ones on the left; the big ones on the right are poblanos, which also did extremely well for us this year. 
The first round of hinkelhatz peppers were sliced and pickled like jalapeños, and we plan to enjoy them on nachos all winter long. (Hopefully they’re not too spicy for that application — these are supposed to be several times hotter than jalapeños, but we’ve had such extremely spicy jalapeños in the past that I think we can handle it.)
Now that we have a second batch, I blitzed that whole basket of mixed hot peppers above to make a new batch of homemade sriracha. We did this for the first time back in 2013, and it lasted pretty much forever — we have the ta…

Apple Butter

Our enormous Gala apple tree had another great year, and we are once again buried in apples. The tree is so tall that we can’t pick them all — even with a ladder! That leaves us plenty of apples to turn into wintertime treats.
This year, I decided to make some apple butter. This is a common Pennsylvania Dutch treat that’s basically super-concentrated applesauce. You just keep cooking it, so that the sugars caramelize and the whole thing turns into a thick, brown spread. It’s excellent on toast, and you can also use it in other desserts.
Making it is an all-day affair, even with the help of the Crockpot. To start, I made the world’s laziest schnitz, which should be cored, sliced and peeled apples. 

As you can see, all I did was cut the apples into quarters (they’re small) and toss them into the Crockpot. I like the color that the red skins give to the apples as they cook down, and it’s much easier just to run the whole pile through a food mill once they’re soft than it is to fuss with…

Jenny Lind Melons

In addition to the heirloom tomato seeds we bought in Pennsylvania last spring, we also picked up a packet of melon seeds. Jenny Lind melons are a variety of cantaloupe from the 1800s, and we gave it a try on a whim since it was described as cold-hardy. We always had trouble getting melons to ripen in our relatively short growing season, so this seemed like a reasonably good bet.
We picked the first one at the very end of August:

As you can see, they have a funny shape. The bump on top is not the end that connects to the vine, by the way. 
The inside is also different:

It’s a cantaloupe, but it’s green instead of orange. (This one has already had its seeds scooped out.)
I’m not a huge melon fan — with the notable exception of melons we grow in our garden. These are sooooo sweet and juicy and fragrant that they’re really a totally different thing from the sad melons you get in a restaurant fruit cup or from the grocery store.
This didn’t disappoint! It’s delicious, especially served w…

Both Sides of My Skin — On Sale!

ICYMI: I wrote a book of short stories:

If you haven’t read it yet, now’s your chance! Annorlunda Books is having a 50% off sale at Gumroad, where you can download the ebook for just a couple bucks. 
To do that, you’ll need the coupon code BACKTOSCHOOL to use at checkout. 

Heirloom German Gold Tomatoes

Last spring we spent a week traveling across Pennsylvania, visiting some parts of Amish country. While we were there, we purchased several seed packets of heirloom fruits to try. But since we had already started our seeds for the year, they had to wait until the next growing season.
Fast forward to today, when we finally get to see what a German Gold tomato actually looks like:

These are enormous heirloom tomato from Germany. They are a gold variety with bright red streaks along the sides, making them very colorful (though we picked the first ones way too soon, not realizing that they would redden up). 
The flavor is really good — mild, juicy and well-balanced. And since they’re so big, they’re perfect for stuffing:

This one practically took up my whole salad plate and was filled with chicken salad. It was a perfectly filling meal! I’m also thinking these tomatoes could make a pretty salsa, too, but mostly we’ve just been slicing them for sandwiches and eating on the spot.