The Beet Street Blog

Connecting to the Past by Kerrie Flanagan

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This is my favorite time of year when the cooler temperatures nudge out the heat and the lush green foliage prepares to dazzle us with red, gold and orange colors. The garden is in full bloom, bursting with ripe vegetables and fruit.

Tomato plants bend from the weight of the plump red vegetable, green jalapenos dangle from tiny plant limbs, onions burst from the ground, ripe raspberries dangle from branches of the bush and cucumber and zucchini vines creep around the garden, hiding their green vegetables under big leaves.
 
As I harvest all the fruits and vegetables of my labor, I feel connected to women before me—my mom, my grandma, her grandma and so on. Preparing my crop for the winter has a different meaning to me then it did to them. For some of them it was a matter of survival, for me it is a way to slow down and enjoy the results of my hard work. It is also a way for me to provide food to my family that I know is void of chemicals and pesticides.

In this fast paced world, it relaxes me to wash and cut tomatoes, onions and jalapenos for salsa or to mix together chopped raspberries, green peppers and jalapenos with sugar to create a sweet and spicy raspberry, jalapeno jelly.

I have learned about the canning process by talking with other women of my mom’s generation. They share tips and insight with me many of it passed down from their mothers. Like only use small jars for jelly and make sure to take the seed out of the tomatoes for spaghetti sauce.

I love filling the warm mason jars with the jelly, salsa or pickles and then submerging them in a boiling water bath. When the time is right, I lift the steaming jars out and line them up on the counter. With great anticipation I wait for the popping sound, signaling to me that the jars are properly sealed and ready to put away.

As I think about it, I know I have it easier than my great-great grandma with my Pampered Chef chopper and my food processor, but in the end result is exactly the same. I have food from my garden that I tended, nurtured and preserved which provides me with food I can feed to my family in the coming months.

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Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly

½  cup chopped Green bell pepper
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup chopped Jalapenos (no seeds)
3 cups of sugar
¾ cup cider vinegar
3 ounces pectin

  1. Combine first five ingredients in a large saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Boil for one minute
  4. Remove from heat; let cook 5 minutes
  5. Stir in pectin
  6. Strain mixture through a fine strainer to remove pepper chunks
  7. Pour liquid into sterilized jars.
  8. Cover tightly and store in cool place for up to 6 months.
    **Tastes great on crackers with cream cheese.

Kerrie Flanagan is a freelance writer and director of Northern Colorado Writers, a group that supports and encourages writers of all levels and genres. Learn more about NCW at www.NorthernColoradoWriters.com. Visit Kerrie’s blog at www.the-writing-bug.blogspot.com.

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

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