Tis the Season!

comments (0) December 8th, 2011

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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Cover of Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons by Pat Crocker. Printed with permission of Pat Crocker and HarperCollins Canada.Click To Enlarge

Cover of Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons by Pat Crocker. Printed with permission of Pat Crocker and HarperCollins Canada.

Photo: Pat Crocker

Things have slowed down in the garden. It is cold outside. I am still harvesting greens and the garlic is up, which always makes me fell happy inside. The deer in the woods at the edge of our clearing are hunkered down. They don’t huddle—I can see them very clearly because there are no green leaves out there—they space themselves fairly close and one or two of them keep their heads up acting as sentries. Their white tails are pulled up against their bodies which makes it easier to see them against the leaf-strewn woodland carpet.

The birds are flying in at the feeder at a rapid rate rather like a busy airport. It is a veritable seedy landing and take-off area throughout the day. The squirrels are nutty. They try to get on the bird feeder, leaping from trees and chewing their way through the anti-squirrel cone/shield that is on the pole that holds the feeder. We had to cut branches from the trees near the feeder. They run hither and yon all day gathering acorns, walnuts, what have you…

And so the cycles of the season continue. Animals and humans are turning inward, it is time to rest and/or hibernate. However, this time of year, we humans are doing the opposite of what we are supposed to do. We are gearing up for the largest social time of the year. We are shopping, cleaning, cooking and dashing madly about getting ready for the holidays. I am trying to simplify. Yes, I am purchasing some things for the kids in the family. I am making gifts: pickling peppers and garden vegetables; creating elixirs with herbs and spices into bitters and shrubs; herb and spice blends; using pressed botanicals for cards; framing garden photos and designing my annual garden calendar; and of course, baking.

I am a confessed bibliophile and therefore I buy books for myself and for ones that I care about. I love books, I read books, and I use them constantly for research. I amassed a number this year and I am going to tell you about a few that I think are especially wonderful. The book I’d like to feature today is by a dear friend and accomplished author, Pat Crocker. Pat and I met many years ago when I flew to Canada to speak at Richters; she was my designated driver. We hit it off from the gitgo having writing, books, cooking, herbs, not to mention teen-aged girls in common—yet another lifelong herbal connection. Pat has written numerous books since then, all of which I own and use often (see her Web site www.riversongherbals.com) and she has won numerous awards for them in North America and Europe. Some of her more recent books include: Everyday Flexitarian, Tagine Recipes, The Juicing Bible, The Smoothies Bible, and one of my favs, The Vegetarian Cook’s Bible.

Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons is her latest and highly impressive tome. If you can, freeze or preserve, you need this book full of mouthwatering recipes. The recipes range from some of the more traditional preserves, jams and jellies, and relishes to innovative, modern and even exotic combinations. Just looking at her wonderful photographs will make your mouth water. In the meantime, Pat has generously offered to share one of her all-time favorite recipes ‘Aunt Ruth’s Heritage Chili Sauce’, which will make a delicious and useful holiday gift. Use those garden tomatoes that you put up earlier in the season to make this and give as gifts. It is delish!  


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posted in: Book Review, preseving, chili sauce