I’m a hoarder.
In the fall, knowing that winter and its limited access to fresh, local food is looming, I can and I freeze in a rodent-esque frenzy, rushing with stuffed cheeks from tree to larder.
Over the winter I mete out the jars and bags hoping-just-hoping we’ll make them last until the food returns. Then the mercury climbs and the world begins to green up again, as it currently is greening like a time-lapse film outside my window, and though we’ve inevitably run out of tomatoes more or less by Christmas, equally inevitably I realize that I have over-hoarded, over-meted, over-parsed. THERE IS A LOT OF FRUIT IN THE BASEMENT, just FYI if you are in the area.
Every March I vow that next year will be the year that I’ll just Annie Dillard right through the stash instead of doling it out like a miser. And then we go around again.
Despite its lack of snow, the winter we just ended was as foodless (in local terms) as it usually is, but thanks to my stinginess, I’m in a pretty good position (in fruit terms) to do a little preserving, or re-preserving, in the sense of moving from freezer to jar. I’m determined to maybe finally defrost the freezer in the window of time that exists before things start growing in earnest and I fill it up again.
As soon as Marisa’s gorgeous new book came in the mail, I began zeroing in on what I could make from the goods in the ice-cave downstairs. Soon the book bristled with bookmarks. I’ve noodled around with reducing the cane sugar in my preserves for as long as I’ve been putting food by, and 100 recipes that are tested for doing so safely (and so tastily) will keep me going for ages. The book, which explores the use of coconut sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup and fruit concentrates, is a handsome third musketeer on my shelf to her first two books, both now well-stained from use. If you are new to Marisa, or new to canning, start here. She will talk you through, talk you down off the ledge, and steer you absolutely straight to something you will love.
Ever the realist (HA), and about to embark on a trip that had spawned a to-do list of giant proportions, I winnowed the recipes down to a must-try short list, of a mere 11 items.
Then a large box of Meyer lemons, hand-picked by my California brother-in-law at no small risk to his personal safety (thorns! ladders!) arrived on my doorstep, immediately partnering with reality to dramatically re-shape the list.
Some of the lemons had to be preserved, because hoarding or no hoarding there is never enough preserved lemons, and with a lemon windfall on top of the ones I already had salted and socked away I felt free to go a little wild with my friend Alana; these spicy beauties are going to be nice to come home to in a few weeks, and on the strength of their gorgeousness, I’ve added Autumn's new book to my wish-list, too.
Marisa’s lemonade concentrate, sweetened with agave, felt like a great investment of all the lemon goodness in my hand-picked beauties, and could not have been easier to make.
I subbed roses for the lavender, because I had them (and I had them because I love them) and because the only thing better than lemons or roses is lemons + roses.
Lemons dispatched, I managed to squeak in a dance with a few pounds of frozen blueberries. Marisa’s blueberry-chipotle dipping sauce may be the answer to most questions posed by roasted potatoes (and by anything that might otherwise drive you to the embrace of ketchup) and I think it’s going to make a gorgeous purple mess of a cheese & chutney sammy, a lunch of first resort for me every since I served time waiting tables and screwing up orders in a British tea room in college.
Because the world of the blogger is as glittery and swag-laden as you no doubt suspected, I’ve been furnished with a copy of the book to give away. See the snazzy little form down below for a zillion (plus or minus) ways to enter.
All the marvelous Marisa things I am scheming to do with sour cherries and peaches and blackberries will have to wait until I get home. SO many things. If you are on the west coast, you don't have to wait to have a little Marisa fun. And wherever you are, her book is likely something you can snap right up, which I warmly urge you to do.