Grow, Eat, Drink. Repeat.

Let’s face it, we grow food to eat food.  Or at least that’s our plan here in the L household.  And when I say eat, I also mean cook.  Anyone who has known me for any legnth of time knows that I relish in creating meals and goodies that taste good, and hopefully are good for you too.

And while our garden is growing in leaps and bounds, we’re at that stage where nothing new is quite ripe yet–plump tomatoes hang from the vine just basking their greens selves in the sun;  corn is still forming away and popping new silks out every day;  the new beans we planted last Saturday have already poked their way through the dirt, but we have loads of time before they produce anything.  We’re in a gardening (and culinary) holding pattern.

Until today–I haven’t had the chance to can anything yet this summer, and my good friend and collegue LR asked me if I wanted to go berry picking with her and show her how to can.  AMAZING!  Sitting back and reflecting now with my glass of blueberry wine and tired legs, it was a great day mooching off of other people’s gardens 🙂

We started at Hill Top Winery in Nellysford, VA and it turned out to be such an incredible treat–not only were we able to pick some amazing blueberries, they also allowed us to taste some of the berry wines and meads that they hand craft with the fruit they grow.  Personal favorites here included the Blue Heeler blueberry wine and the Lavender Metheglin–LR and I are already scheming on how to incorporate the latter’s flavor into a herb jelly!

From Hill Top, we made our way down to Morris Orchard where we picked up more blueberries and a nice large bag of peach seconds.  As I told LR, buying seconds at orchards is my favorite thing to do–if you get the right ones you get all the flavor at a fraction of the price.  These beauties today were no exception–while they may have been a little funny shaped, they were firm, ripe and perfect for canning.

After picking up the right tools for the job (cans, pectin, sugar), LR and I went straight to work in the kitchen.  I love the rhythm of canning–how there is a set procedure and when you follow through with that procedure you come out with the desired product (if only all things in life were like that!).  And that desired product will allow you to enjoy the ripe, fresh produce today, or tomorrow, or when you’re having a mid-winter blah moment in February.  Today we kept it simple–one batch of blueberry jam and one batch of peach jam.   We have a future date to tackle some tomatoes and blackberries (although not in the same batch!) when they come in, and I think we’ll both be scheming of new and innovative ways to combine some flavors.

Coolest part of the whole experience today?  Passing along a skill–cooking, canning, sharing are all integral in this process and adventure of figuring out where our food comes from.  It’s invigorating and fun to invite someone else onto this fun ride.

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