September 2016: Husk, Brine, Stew



The low orange light of fall is slanting across the hills and fields, tinting the garden and the kitchen with the warmest shades of amber. It's a bittersweet color,  tinged with the smoke of nearby wildfires, that turns the sky red and gold and purple with smoke, intensifying color, salting every breath with soft smoke blown from the south. It reminds us, as may be appropriate in the autumn, that every thing has a season, and an end. From ends are born beginnings, but loss is a constant, too; the reaping and the sowing both are necessary, and not without their attendant ache. We gather fruits in the molten light, and send hope for seeds to sprout in the spring, new life to spring from the stumps. The work goes on.

This is a season of canning kettles and harvest baskets, fermentation crocks and flats of jars waiting to be filled with the late summer harvest. Though the calendar tells us that the summer is waning, some of our favorite fruits and vegetables are just now coming into their full fruition. Apples, those workhorses of pantry and lunchbox, are falling from the tree, ripe for the picking, to be milled into applesauce, or fermented down into hard apple cider. Tomatillos, green and purple cousins of the tomato, are swelling in their papery husks, alongside peppers of every color. The bees have found some secret store of nectar; many beekeepers in these hills are finding an unlooked-for harvest of dark, intense honey, and the runner beans are bearing their long, lumpy harvest. Have you ever wondered what to do with those enormous, beautiful, and perplexing beans? Wonder no more.

Scarlet Runner Bean & Blackened Tomato Stew

runner bean and tomato stew

Serve that soup, if you like, with a dollop of this green enchantment. Or, you know, eat it with chips. That’s good, too. 

Tomatillo Salsa Recipe for Canning

canned tomatillo salsa

Perhaps, like us your heart beats more quickly at the thought of fermented foods. At this time of year, it seems like everything must be pickled, packed into jars, or otherwise processed. What a flurry it can be, to keep up. Sometimes we’ve been left staring at several half full jars of brine, their pickles all eaten, wondering what else might be done with the cloudy, flavorful elixir, probiotic in it’s own right, and certainly worthy of a second thought before it goes down the drain. We’ll be exploring this from several angles, in the months and weeks to come. This week, we’re thinking crispy, nutty, and crunchy. Hello, Brine Crackers!

Brine Cracker Recipe

pickle brine crackers

 Workshops & Events

farmers market classes

Aside from all the hustle-bustle, in garden and kitchen, we’ve got a busy month ahead of us. On the road, in the apiary, or at the Farmer’s Markets, we’re popping up everywhere, like oyster mushrooms after the first fall rains. Do you feel like a little road trip? We’re headed down to the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, for our annual immersion in the beautiful, briney experience that is the Fermentation Festival. We eat ALL the fermented foods, teach and talk and learn and generally have a rollicking good time there. Our booth is staffed and full of the finest fermentation wares, ideas, inspiration and techniques, and we would love to see you there. Tickets are available here.

A little closer to home,at the Westside Farmers’ Market, the last of the free preservation demo series is coming to an end. The class begins at !0 am, when Jess and Karla will be demonstrating food preservation techniques for that most venerable solanum, the tomato.

The very next day, Karla hosts an important beekeeping class at her Ben Lomond apiary. Fall Management and Winter Prep is a hands on class, and it lays a solid foundation for beekeepers to support their bees as the seasons change. From right sizing colonies, mite treatment, feeding, and more, it’s full of useful information for the changing season ahead. Pre-registration is required, online or in store. Update: Class is now full. Call us to be added to the waitlist (831) 336-8876.

Our little store is changing with the seasons, too. The fall vegetable starts are taking the place of the summer crops in the veggie department. The nursery is still full of blooms, as the fall bloomers begin to come into their own, the last hurrah of flagrant blossom before winters’ sparser pleasures supplant them. Like the wild creatures who line their nests with seed fluff and leaves before the cold sets in, we’re readying our store for the months ahead; roasting pans and cast iron, stock pots and pressure cookers are at the forefront of our autumnal thoughts. We wish you, and all creatures, a fall season of community, safe refuge, and abundant harvest.

Staff Pick: Le Parfait Storage Jars

le parfait jars

The 35 ounce Le Parfait jars are perfect to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables or for an attractive food storage option. The lid is mounted on a wire hinge with a locking lever to fasten the lid to the top of the jar securely. A rubber o-ring is inserted into the lid as a gasket, creating an airtight seal. These jars can be canned or used for food storage. Set of two.

A beautiful storage option for the Brine Crackers or Scarlet Runner Bean & Blackened Tomato Soup.

Over to You...

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.