On a summer evening, when I’m sitting at my dining room table chopping some broccoli to freeze for winter, my mind always starts to drift to the recipes I’ll use the broccoli in during the coming months. This is part of the richness and the fun of food preserving for me.
I think, “Well, I know I’ll definitely use it in my favorite Broccoli Basil Mac and Cheese recipe. Oh, and pizza. We always use it on pizza on Friday nights. And I love the Vegetable Upside Down Cake from The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest cookbook. Yum! I can’t wait to cook with this broccoli!”
During food preserving season, I always feel even more excited about freezing broccoli because I know exactly how I’m going to use it in the coming months. Each season of the year, the food I’ve put away enriches our meals, is shared with friends, and reminds me of the bounty of the gardening season.
Because I grow lots of tomatoes in my garden, I always have a freezer full of chopped tomatoes. On a cold January night, I’ll defrost one of my containers of tomatoes and mix it together with onions and garlic stored in the basement, carrots I’m keeping in the fridge from my fall garden, red lentils, coconut milk, lemon, spices and soup stock to make one of my all-time favorite soups.
I’ll make a spinach salad, slice some of our favorite bread, and pull out a jar of pesto from last summer. Mmm, every time I eat that pesto I’m transported back to the sunny, summer garden. It’s good for the soul on a cold, dark night!
Once the nights start to warm up we love to have friends over for dinner and drinks in our backyard on a Friday night. One of the easiest and most delicious weekend meals for a crowd is pizza.
We gather all of our ingredients from our basement freezer and storage crates. We sauté onions and garlic from last year’s garden in a pan, slather pesto on the crusts as the base, and then add frozen broccoli, red peppers and maybe even some corn or green beans if we’re feeling crazy!
Everything except the crust and cheese is usually from our garden the previous year. It’s so fun to serve this to our friends and brag about eating local pizza in April.
One of my favorite parts of summer is picking berries – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are my favorites. I eat a smoothie most mornings for breakfast, so having a big supply of local berries is very important to me.
My favorite blueberry farm has Wednesday evening picking times. I love driving out there alone or with friends and filling as many buckets as possible with round, ripe berries as the sun sets over the hills in the distance.
Each morning during the rest of the year, when I take a cup of berries out of the freezer for my smoothie, I flash back to that summer evening with friends, laughing and chatting as we climb under and around the bushes, trying to pick every last berry.
On an early autumn morning I pack a few crates in my car and drive down to the farmers market. I find a vendor with lots of winter squash and buy as many acorns and butternuts as I can possibly fit in my crates. I’m stocking up with a winter’s worth of squash, one of my favorite vegetables, and one I don’t grow in my own garden.
Once I get it home and into my basement for storage, I can’t help but break into one immediately for that night’s dinner. It’s been a long time since I finished my last squash from the previous year, so I can’t wait to make one of my favorite dishes – Roasted Pumpkin Salad (I substitute squash).
We have plans that night to go to a potluck to help close out the season on our friends’ screened porch. A rich, autumn dish sounds like the perfect way to say goodbye to the nights spent hanging outside with friends.
The work I put into food preserving is always paid back a hundred fold. Especially since I focus on quick and easy techniques that don’t require a full day of food processing. A 45 minute session of broccoli freezing or tomato chopping on a weeknight will result in many delicious dishes in the coming year.
Want to eat meals from your garden 12 months of the year like I do? I show you how in my book, Super Easy Food Preserving. Read more about it here.
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