Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Harvest Season

Pecans are ripening...citrus is ripening...okra is still going strong...I love autumn.


I love pecans. We currently have 7 pecan trees I think. We used to have 10 or 11, but with hurricanes over the years we've lost some.

My parents went to Oklahoma on Saturday morning, so we've been picking pecans up for a few weeks so my mom has something to do in the truck. The pecans below in the bags (made from old t-shirts, mostly) are cracked. She cleaned them most of the 15 hour drive up. The rest (in the box) are for my dad to crack up there so she can work on those on the way home.

Since we have so many different types of pecans, and they come in a diversity of shapes/sizes, we learned years ago that the best thing to do is separate them out by tree. Then the ones that fit together can be cracked at the same time without altering the cracker. It helps and makes the whole task go much quicker.

We usually end up with a freezer full and enough left over to give to my grandparents and aunt/uncle. It makes life a whole lot more convenient in the cooking world.

I don't know what I'll do when I move up to Oklahoma. I won't have a million pecan trees. What to do? They have black walnut trees growing on the side of the road near our place. Will I just have to get used to walnuts until we can get pecan trees going? Ah well.


Lemons. Satsumas. Oranges. Grapefruits. Kumquats. Tangerines. We have them all.

I've been doing a lot of canning of lemon juice, due to the poor lemon tree falling over. I was up to 22 quarts before, iirc. On Saturday, I did another 14. Lotsa lemon juice. Lotsa lotsa lotsa lemon juice. Mom and Dad brought a few bags to Oklahoma to make lemonade and give to anybody up there who wants some. And the tree still has fruit on it.

Anybody got suggestions on things to do with lemons? :P

The two pictures on the right are satsumas. Nathan (brother mine) cut half a bushel this past Friday night for Mom and Dad to bring with them. He found a bunch that fit together like grapes, which was really cool.

They've just now started turning full out orange, but they've been ripe for about two or three weeks now. They're not the biggest in the world, but they are tasty.

The grapefruits are getting ripe as well. I don't eat them, but everybody else does in the house. Mom and Dad said they weren't quite ripe, Nathan didn't care, he still ate the one he peeled.

Once everybody's eaten their fill of grapefruits and oranges, I'll juice and can the remains. My great-grandpa used to can satsuma juice to drink like orange juice. If we have those left over this year I might try that. Has anybody else done this, or something similar with tangerines or other citrus?

Also, does anybody have suggestions on what to do with kumquats aside from marmalade, fruit salad or just plain eating them? It's another that I don't eat, but everybody else in the house loves them. Suggestions on uses would be appreciated.


"The corn is as high as an elephant's eye..." Sorry, no corn. Okra, yes. And I couldn't reach the top of a lot of the plants to pick it. A lot is too big to use, just because my parents have been to busy to pick it a lot. There's plenty of small stuff still coming out though, so I went out Saturday morning at about 7 and picked. Nice and cool, I felt like I was in a rain forest. The plants towered above me, the dew hung on spiderwebs and caught the light. It was beautiful.

Fall in south Louisiana equals gumbo season. My dad isn't the soup-in-hot-weather kind of guy, so we don't do gumbo til it cools off. We usually boil, smother, dehydrate or give okra to my grandparents as we pick it. Since I was planning on running the dehydrator over the weekend anyway, I fixed up a few sheets of okra and stuck them in. My grandpa eats the dried okra just to munch on, the rest of us have never acquired that taste though. We put it in chicken and sausage gumbo or rehydrate it to smother. In the gumbo, it holds shape and texture more than fresh okra does. It behaves like most other dehydrated veggies versus their fresh/frozen counterparts.

While the dehydrator was running, and since Mom and Dad left them in the fridge, I stuck some tomatoes in there as well. Slice them up and stick them in there like any other veggie (~145* for as long as it takes to dry up).

I put them in the jars of soup mix I have on the shelf, along with corn, snap beans, carrots, peas and a few bay leaves. This makes soup-making a rather quick and painless task for Mom. :) And it means I get to eat tasty soup. Tasty food is always a good thing after eating UL Lafayette Sodexo cafeteria food for a few days...

This coming weekend will include the making of Pa (great-grandpa)'s Popcorn Balls, White Russian Cake Pops, shortbread cookies with Royal Icing stamped with Halloweeny things and Caramel Apples.

I made the dough for the cookies last weekend, along with the icing. I got all the ingredients for the rest except for the apples, frosting (cake pops), vodka (cake pops), and white almond bark (cake pops again) last weekend at the store, or just compiled what I had lying around the house.

This coming weekend will be a long one, but it'll be worth it.

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