We just returned from a biking trip to Colorado’s Western Slope. The weather was delightful, the color and scenery were stupendous and biking was exhilarating, with almost zero traffic. As great as all that however, was our last-minute “food hunt.”
On our last afternoon, we scoured around the countryside, finding local meats , cheeses and honey, beautiful boxes of tomatoes, pears, peaches and plums, locally made mustards and sauces, and of course, joyous vegetables: some U-Pick eggplant and peppers, plus green beans and carrots grown right at our Fresh and Wyld B&B that are the best I’ve ever tasted.
I am probably the only person on the planet who willingly and excitedly devotes vacation time to food hunting, so I’m not going to suggest this for your next vacation. However, can I suggest a little close in food hunting as autumn swings into full gear.
I’ve discovered a long-dormant instinct that derives immense satisfaction from even the smallest autumn harvest activity. Ideas for this kind of completely illogical joy:
- Obvious choices: an autumn visit to a local farmer’s market or farm stand
- Something fairly obvious: a pumpkin patch visit. (Don’t be embarrassed if you’re kids are too big to go with you. I loved watching everyone else’s kids–and didn’t have to negotiate over which pumpkin to choose!)
- Something easy: Slice and freeze red peppers for those winter months when they skyrocket to $7 a pound (and don’t taste like much.)
- Something else easy: Puree a favorite combination of peaches, melons, pears, plums and berries in the food processor. Freeze the smoothie-thick juice for a mid-winter burst of flavor or cook up for a pancake syrup.
- Something heavenly: Bake peach slices until caramelized and freeze. Then, don’t touch this “peach candy” until you can’t stand any more cold and snow in March.
- Something very practical. Make a big batch of marinara sauce, use half and freeze half.
- Something lovely: Make a bouquet of cut autumn flowers
- Something unbelievably comforting: Cut up apples, throw in a slow cooker and cook overnight. Wake up to warm applesauce to top granola or pancakes.
- If nothing else: Buy a little extra from the store to stock the larder. Even grocery stores can have sales of autumn foods, like fresh -pressed apple juice (pop in your freezer if it’s not canned), Maverick chickens (on sale at Vitamin Cottage), Muir Glen canned tomatoes (also on sale at Vitamin Cottage.)
Each autumn, I am surprised by the curiously satisfying feeling that comes from”putting by” a little for winter. Maybe your harvest instinct might like some indulging, and there’s little to lose. In fact, you’ll likely save money by buying now, while the best is in season.