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Squirreling away for winter

By Penny Stine

I don’t consider myself a rodent, yet I have this compulsive desire to can, freeze, dry and store food up for the winter every fall. It’s almost like I’m a squirrel, hiding nuts for the coming winter. Or maybe I just feel slightly nuts when I spend half my spare time in September and October freezing, canning, pickling and drying.


I have to admit, I didn’t grow half of what I stored. The apricots for jam came from a co-worker’s tree, the green chiles came from Okagawa, the corn came from an Olathe grower who set up shop in the back end of a pickup near Cottonwood Liquors and I got most of my tomatoes for canning from Rettig Farms. The green beans for my jars of dilly beans came from a farm stand in Palisade, since my own green beans were too hard to find, hidden away in the corn and morning glory.

 


At least I used home-grown tomatillos for green salsa, garden-produced basil for pesto, froze excess spinach, Swiss chard and kale and managed to put pattypan squash in everything we ate all summer long.

 


Now it’s done, so I can smile, sit back and enjoy roasted green chiles, chocolate zucchini bread, home-canned peaches or frozen veggies all winter long. Nothing like seeing a shelf full of home-canned produce to make you feel like all that weeding, watering and nurturing was worth it.
And just in case a freak snowstorm shuts down traffic across I-70 for weeks and reduces the offerings on the grocery shelves, I’ll be ready! Especially if we have a strange craving for green salsa over peaches.

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