Summer draws to a close

Fall 2011 at Portage Park Farmer’s Market | Photo by Kelly Rose

We’re on the heels of my favorite season.  The mornings now have a bite in the air, fashion scarves and sweaters are becoming imperative, and everything around me is turning into orange-y and amber hues.  Though I’m a California girl at heart, I’ve lived in the Midwest for almost 25 years.  The one thing about living here that has kept me from continually accosting my parents for moving us across the country is the leaves.  Well, they have leaves in California, but they don’t turn orange and gold and burgundy.

Some people live life with rose-colored glasses; my glasses are burgundy.

Plus, the idea of not sweating profusely every time I go somewhere is highly appealing to me.

The farmer’s market is becoming particularly bountiful, and though it’s sad to see summer squash and tomatoes go out of my life, the beginning of fall means it’s “squirrel time”.  What I mean is, I’m trying to make time to take everything that still just barely at it’s peak of freshness and dry it, freeze it or can it for the winter.

I’ve always wanted to make an attempt to preserve enough produce to make it through the winter without buying a shriveled up zucchini that was grown in the middle of Mexico and shipped to my local store on a refrigerator truck.

Wishful thinking…

I know that this isn’t the year for me to make this happen full stop, but nonetheless I’ve managed to buy and can or freeze 25 pounds of  tomatoes, pickle a bunch of beets, blanch and freeze broccoli, eggplant, and green beans, and there is a batch of crispy squash chips in the oven as I type.  I got a really big squash in my CSA box last week, was told it would be the last one, and, having eaten one squash too many, this is what I chose to do with it:

Squash Chips

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced and dried on a paper towel
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (spraying it with cooking spray works fine too).  Arrange the squash slices in a single layer and coat with olive oil using a pastry brush.  Sprinkle with a modest amount of salt and bake at 275-F for a LONG time (several hours).  When they are firm and crispy, they’re done.

A great substitute for potato chips, use these chips up in about three days, stored in a plastic bag or wrapped in a tea towel

Introducing Alvi

I’m a cat person.  I grew up with dogs, but I’m definitely a cat person.  Fortunate for me, Alvi is a cat that I can take to the park.  We’ve been in love with Chihuahuas (the dogs, and the cheese) since meeting our friend Sandy’s dog Jonah several years ago.  Reputted for their yips and yappinesss and general annoying qualities, Alvi is perfect.  He yaps only when he should (like when a big dog gets nasty with him), loves to cuddle, and does a fantastic impression of a wolf howling at the moon.

I’m in love.

Part of the reason we wanted a dog was to get out more in our neighborhood and have an excuse to visit the park and go for walks.  The funny thing is, when you have a dog people in your neighborhood actually stop to talk to you.  I’m not sure if it’s like a dog bonding thing, or a great conversation starter, or something else entirely, but I’m thinking we might actually get to know some of our neighbors by having a dog.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated on that part of the journey… in the mean time, photos: