It's 4:37 AM and I've been awake since 3:31 AM. Three weeks ago, I would have attributed my interrupted sleep to my father's needs in the middle of the night, aka E.D.T (Early Dad Time), but my broken sleep pattern has another meaning now - F.A.T.
F.A.T. has a different meaning to me than what most people would think. I'm not talking about muffin tops, spare tires, or expanded pieces of my body. F.A.T. is the acronym for "Fall Anticipation Time". F.A.T. messes with my sleep cycle. It's an energy that calls me telling me there are things to do in order to enter winter. Things such as hauling out the winter blankets, planting a fall garden, deciding what gardens to close, putting things away, and taking out the heavy hitters. Heavy hitters such as sweaters, mittens, scarfs, cleaning the storm windows, putting the shovels on standby (let's not forget the Halloween snowfall last year, my friends). And, the all important, cannot be ignored vegetable harvest and canning.
If there's one culinary treat my mother cannot live without it's her tomatoes. This year I planted three heirloom varieties resulting in three different sized tomatoes. She's gone through the hearty heirloom beefsteak tomatoes like they were going out of style. The cherry and grape tomato harvest came in with a boom, but she made a nice dent in the crop, but she's not about to run out soon.
I asked her if she could really differentiate between the taste of the tomatoes grown outside her window and the commercial varieties. Bless her heart. She told me she couldn't get enough of the homegrown flavor. The tomato had a deeper richer taste. Her comments were good news to me because she's about 80 lbs and I'm always trying to feed her something, anything, all the time.
The preservation plans for our robust harvest came from several Internet foodie sites. I've already frozen a great deal and today I'll do the slow-roasted and preserved in olive oil method, just to change things up a bit (and no, I won't forget the garlic).
Next, I'll move on to kale. Kale's new to my garden and the crop did very, very well. Too well. I am the only one who eats Kale. Mom can't have it because it interferes with her medication. Dad's nurses would leave with a bunch of two of kale and towards the end I'd pull up an entire plant, dust off the dirt, and put the beautiful plant in a bag. I am up to keister in Kale, but the folks on Facebook's Cold Antler Farm group gave me some excellent recipes. Kale pasta anyone? Who knew. Kale smoothies? What? Kale chips? Awesome by the way.
After all that's accomplished, I'll move on to the herb drying. I dry herbs for many purposes, but today's focus rests on the culinary and tea herbs. My beautiful friend Katie gave me an antique herb drying rack that makes drying a breeze. I'll harvest a good amount of anise hyssop, lemon balm, mullein (people say it's a weed, it's an herb!), rosemary, russian sage, and lemon thyme (delicious sprinkled on chicken before roasting).
So, that's F.A.T. as in the harvest. F.A.T. as in preparation for the winter. A time of cool crisp air, beautiful turning leaves, and, here we go again, change.
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