As I start to prepare my freezer and pantry for the upcoming winter I realized that lately I am operating on auto-pilot. The day starts with a good sturdy pair of slippers, a somewhat clean sweatshirt, pajama pants and a good strong cup of coffee. I grab the coffee pour it into the insulated mug and out to the garden I go.
I like to get out there early in the morning, for a few reasons, one is to be there at sunrise to soak up the moment and the other is avoid the rising heat and the bugs when they awaken.
The garden is quiet, the air is still and its only me out there, well me and the 4 dogs all in various moments of activity throughout the yard.
This is the best time for me to pick fresh produce, and weed, as the nights energy is still in my body and hands. Because lets face it gardening can be a lot of hard work.
Potatoes give easily in the early morning dirt, as I pull them up saying thankyou to the greenery of the plant for sustaining them this long. Carrots and beets are also well picked in the early morning as the ground and I have an agreement about the situation of being plucked out of the warm earth.
Onions are easy pickers only when the ground is very wet after a rain or heavy watering, most mornings I have to beg the onion to let go out of the ground and into my picking basket.
Once I have gathered all the in ground growers (tubers) I work on the green beans, peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli. There is nothing as satisfying as picking a ripe pepper that literally falls into your hand as you tell the plant to give it up to you. Once I have made my rounds through the pepper and tomatoes patch I can feel the bees starting to stir and buzz, this is my cue to leave that area so they can go to work pollinating and buzzing thru another summer day. This year I was blessed with an abundance of very tall sunflowers, which is a good natural way to provide relief from the scorching sun for the ground plants, and also feeds the bees at the same time which provides a very symbiotic relationship for everyone.
When I plotted out the garden plan, it was my intention to keep the lettuce, kale and herbs in a totally different area away from the other ground dwellers, as they are under a shade cover and away from the over abundant bee population.
As I enter this area, I realize this is really the reason I am out in the garden today, I intend to pick kale to make the frozen kale flavor cubes as I prepare my freezer for winter.
Curly Kale fascinates me, how the water droplets slide off the leaves, and how each curly leave can get large enough to be a meal in itself. Of all the varieties I like the texture and flavor of curly kale the best. It also is very hardy and gives me a good yield all season .
I like to cut as much kale as my basket will hold, because I wash it, chop it and freeze it , so I have plenty for the next 6 months.
I also use the kale in the Kale Flavor cubes, that I make as a quick and easy seasoning cube for the winter soups, marinades, and sauces.
The Kale Flavor Cube is simple, all you need is about 20 mins of time and your food processor. Simply wash the kale, tear it up with your hands, pack it into the food processor with peeled garlic, 3/4 C nuts (your choice), and olive oil. Chop to your desired consistency, I like to chop mine very fine almost like a pesto.
You will spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray, freeze the cubes, when ready add them to a Ziploc freezer bag or seal a meal for added freshness and pop them into the freezer, Wala! now you have a ready made flavor cube ready in the freezer.
I like to use either pine nuts, walnuts or pecans with about 5 cloves of garlic for my cube tray. You can really pack a ton of flavor into each cube, you can even add in a few red pepper flakes for some spiciness.
Add red pepper flakes to add spice.
Add oregano, or any herbs of your choice for customized flavor profile.