Sunday, November 01, 2009

Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

By Sept-Oct, the passion for gardening has been subsumed. Just take what's left of the harvest and get on with it. Parsley? Sure. Mint? You betcha. Sage? Perfect for the holidays. Oregano? Still going strong. Tomatoes? Pick for the windowsill.

All well and good. But there's all the "stuff" in pots that must be dealt with, because to leave a nice pot outside in a New England winter is asking for trouble. Freeze, expand, break. Can't do it. Have to take the thyme out of the pot and put in the ground. Planted 24 bulbs of garlic for next summer. Starts to seem like, well, work.

Today I pulled up the rest of the tomato vines, but I don't know what to do with the dirt, because they everything is suspect after the great tomato blight of 2009. Have to figure that out. Also ripped up the nasturtiums and African daisy and other assorted dead annuals. Still some stuff blooming and even budding in one of the pots, and I can't bring myself to rip it out until it's frozen solid.

Already brought in the geraniums and the rosemary. Scrubbed out some pots. The chores are boring and endless. Spring is better with choosing and planting and optimism. Fall?

Homer wrote: As is the generation of leaves, so is that of men. Kind of a downer, as I watch the leaves fall. We have a bumper crop of acorns. Ye gods, you can't walk a step outside without them crunching underfoot. Also lots of pine cones, which make great firestarters if you are old-fashioned enough to have a wood-burning fireplace. Long live real logs!

Yesterday I made a pot of chili. We had an unexpected guest, and everyone ate two (small) bowls, and now there is enough left for tonight but not Monday. No big deal. The recipe is from the New York Times, and I've been making it since I was a young bride. Once we fed hordes of people after an art show, and a man named Joe Witek ate five bowls. Joe sure could eat. A hostess' dream and a hostess' nightmare.

We had a lot of trick and treaters and ran out of candy early, shame on me for getting in there and decimating the Reese's Peanut Butter cups. I have no control about peanut butter. My heroin. Yup. That bad.

Below is the chili recipe. I chopped up a roast and soaked my own pinto beans. Tasted good. I use Penzeys (www.penzeys.com) hot chili powder, and only used 1 and 1/2 T. Otherwise you have to eat it with a box of tissues on the table.

Made the cheddar biscuits again, and something is the matter with the recipe, but they do taste good, so what the hell? They spread all over the baking sheet and the batter is too moist. I had a hell of a time kneading them. WTF?


Chili Con Carne


SERVES: 4

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 large onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seed, crushed
1 pound chopped beef
1 small bay leaf
3 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/3 cups canned tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon basil
1 green pepper, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1.
Heat the butter in a skillet, add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the meat and brown.
2.
Transfer the meat mixture to a large saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is as thick as desired, or about three hours. If desired, add one can of kidney beans just before serving.


Source: THE NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK © 1961 by Craig Claiborne

I made half again as much. This recipe will never win a contest, but it is a good hearty chili.

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