Tonight in the dehydrator we have fingerling potatoes and white eggplant. Tomorrow morning, I’ll package up the eggplant and potatoes and start tomatoes and zucchini. In the afternoon, we’ll jar peach barbecue sauce and applesauce. WE hate winter so much we’re planting delicious time capsules of summer on our pantry shelves. This week, I’m going to try drying the herbs growing in our garden. We have a sage bush that resists all wildlife-based efforts to kill it, and it survived last winter, so I think it’s decided to stay. I’ve decided about half of its leaves would be tasty in soups and stews, along with mint, basil, tarragon, oregano and chives.
Our garden has suffered with the torrential rains and dry spells. Many of our tomatoes started to ripen and rot at the same time, which has been disappointing. Our peppers simply aren’t fruiting, and the squash blossoms fall, orange and vibrant, right off their stems. The Japanese eggplant show more promise but it’s too early to tell if raccoons will find them. On the bright side: a friend of Siobhan’s recently taught us a simple technique for better breads: the sponge method. The night before you want to bake bread, mix all the yeast, all the water, and one cup of the flour or flours your recipe uses and set aside, covered, in a warm place. Twenty-four hours later, assemble the rest of your ingredients as your recipe describes. You may want to add a little extra water but not much. Then bake as normal. This solved my texture problems and I haven’t baked a rock-like loaf since I tried it, and believe me, that is an improvement. Rocks aren’t necessarily delicious. I mean, unless they are.