Chilly

Well, here it is. That sensation, at once so familiar, yet almost forgotten, of being cold. It’s amazing how, when you live in a place with distinct seasons, you can be so insanely hot in the summer it’s almost like you’ll never be cold again. Until you are.

The leaves are falling in golden sunlight.  The windows are closed. I wrap my hands around my coffee mug and the warmth is comforting. And there you have it: Autumn is here, summer is gone.

This weekend I did a bunch of kitchen stuff while the fella finished replacing the trim on the house so we can start painting.

I baked sourdough, made and froze a batch of tomato paste, and started a ‘shrub.’

My first post-summer sourdough. My wild yeast starter has mellowed into a lovely, sophisticated flavor that it equally sweet and sour. I was worried when I took it out of the fridge to make the levain, because it smelled very fermented, but I love the results!

For the tomato paste, I pureed about 3 pounds of tomatoes – some from my garden, some from my neighbor’s, and some from my friend Megan’s. Once pureed, you can strain them to get out the skins and seeds, but my strainer was too fine and nothing but tomato water was getting through, so I decided my tomato paste would have to be ‘rustic.’

Then I sauteed one whole onion and about 5 cloves of garlic in olive oil on a low heat until they were very soft.

Then I added the tomato puree to the onions with a pinch of salt, and cooked off nearly all the liquid over a period of about 3 hours. As the paste thickened it got much darker in color and more fragrant. Then I froze it in an ice cube tray. 3 lbs of tomatoes filled just 1 tray after all that!

I had never heard of a shrub until Gina made some a few weeks ago. It’s sort of a vinegar fruit syrup you add to soda water, and it makes a super thirst-quenching beverage (also a delicious cocktail mixer!) so when my aunt brought over a bag of very ripe local peaches, I knew just what to do with them. This shrub was very easy: 4 lbs peaches, peeled and chopped, macerated in 1 cup sugar for two or three days. Then add 15 basil leaves and 1 cup white wine vinegar and refrigerate for another week. Then strain out the solids and keep the ‘shrub’ (the remaining liquid) in a glass jar in the fridge and it will keep for months and months. Yum!

 

11 thoughts on “Chilly

  1. We have started to feel the turn to fall on the East Coast this week too. I just hope fall sticks around for a second and that we don’t rush into winter! Yay for shrub! Can’t wait to make some. :)

  2. At least we finally dropped below 90 degrees here in the Central Valley. That’s pretty much fall for us….”NOT 90-100″. My summer garden is still producing lovely commodities, but my winter garden is confused. How do you use your “shrub”?

    • Well, this is my first batch, but the with the one Gina made, we made cocktails of rum, soda water, and just a couple tablespoons of the shrub. We garnished with a few mint leaves and it was awesome! Mine is a slightly different recipe, so we’ll have to see what flavors work best with it.

  3. Oooh shrub! That’s there on my list of things to try, but we are pretty much out of fruit season here. Plus The Boy hates vinegar, so I try to limit my stuff that I use it for. But I have been CRAVING the bubbly-ness of soda, so this would probably be fantastic for that.

    :) Bread is on my someday-to-do-list too…. But school keeps sucking all my time!

    • Hates vinegar?! Egads! I have one of those sodastream machines (best random gift ever) and so it’s pretty much just endless soda over here. Heaven!

  4. When you say, “4 lbs peaches, peeled and chopped, macerated in 1 cup sugar for two or three days,” do you mean just peel and chop the peaches and pour on the sugar — no liquid, no refrigeration?

    • Sorry about that. No, they should macerate in the fridge, no liquid added at this point. The sugar will break down the fruit and will turn to liquid on its own.

  5. great looking bread! I’ve never heard of shrub before, but it sounds a lot like similar fermented drinks like beet kvass which a also a yummy one. Getting chilly here too! first frost predicted tomorrow….firing up the woodstove is not far behind.

  6. I’ve never heard of a shrub before, so this was a neat thing to learn! Loving the autumn days too, fires, bread baking, and keeping cosy.

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