Summer, Strawberries, & Spinach

It’s summer! Oh how I love the northwest, since it still feels like spring which is the optimal temperature for me. Highs around 70F… this is the energizing climate I thrive in. I’m celebrating this longest day with a trip to a local peony farm and with another 70:  my 70th blog post. How time flies.

Coppertop gardens are thriving as well at this summer solstice. I have been picking the first strawberries, and yes, I share them. They’re fragrant, juicy, wonderfully sweet, and still warm from the sun. Loads more are on their way in the weeks to come. I’m getting the canning supplies ready.

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We’ve also been enjoying pounds of tender, fresh spinach for well over a month, both in salads and sautéed. I’ve been able to encourage an extended harvest simply by picking outer leaves for us to eat or cook while letting the plants continue to grow in their bed and produce more. Some of the plants have now reached the flowering stage, so I harvested most of the spinach this week and sowed more seed to fill the gaps.

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When I grew spinach in years past, I learned that blanching and freezing is the best way to preserve an abundant harvest. The spinach I prepare and freeze in half pound batches can be used easily in quiches, dips, soups, stirfrys, or even in our family’s traditional Christmas Eve creamed spinach! I’ve thought this simple dish might be a hit at my next dinner party: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/spinach-gratin-recipe.html .

With our harvests in mind, we recently purchased a used upright freezer for the garage, enjoying meeting some fascinating folks in the process. What a small world we live in! By the end of our purchase, we’d made some new/old friends and were sent home with a couple lovely pounds of halibut to go with the new/old freezer. For me, an upright is the way to go, with all foods accessible and practically eye level — less digging around in the frozen depths.

 

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