2013 was a pretty decent year in my kitchen and garden. Here’s a short retrospective post since it’s the time of year when everybody is obligated to write one.
2013 Garden Review
2012 was a lousy year for tomatoes so I overcompensated in 2013. I ended up with way too many. I made a batch of from-scratch sauce, but my sundried tomatoes were the stand-out success story. I have a few jars of those floating around, and they’re very good.
Hot peppers were hit and miss. I ended up with two large containers of pepper vinegar and a small batch of an interesting fermented hot sauce. It’s more than enough to last me a year, and I probably won’t sow any peppers (or, not many of them) next year because the yields are never very good. Maybe if I can find a high-yield, short-season jalapeno variety to make pickled jalapeno slices…
Most of my squash were weird-looking hybrids, and I ended up not really eating any of them. I got three pumpkins, but all three of them were rotten before or shortly after halloween. I won’t bother with pumpkins again. We only got one or two butternut squashes suitable to eat, and we roasted those and made a small batch of butternut squash bisque. We had a heck of a lot of powdery mildew, so I probably won’t plant these sorts of things in the future unless I find varieties resistant to it and I’m really having a craving.
Garlic and onions were awesome, early success stories. I’ve already planted a very large bed of garlic, and have plans for onions come the start of spring.
Potatoes were a little weird this year. The plants were small and sickly looking all season, but when I dumped the buckets there were plenty of potatoes hidden under the dirt. Most were small and we didn’t really eat any of them (most had a weird, spongy feel to them). My hopes are raised that, maybe, next year I can do things better and get better results.
My new cherry trees didn’t produce any fruit this year, probably as a function of shipping/replanting stress and wacky weather. I’m hoping to see a few fruits next year. They both are covered in buds, and I can’t wait until they burst open next spring. My new blueberry bushes outperformed my expectations, and are almost double the size they were from putting on so many little shoots and new budding clusters. My hopes for next year are very high.
2013 Kitchen Review
I got a pressure cooker this year, but haven’t had much opportunity to put it to good use. Food and especially meat prices have been too high lately to justify making and shelving large batches of soup, broth or ready-to-eat meals. When prices of the raw ingredients go down, I’ll definitely be pressure cooking them up. We’ve got the jars ready and waiting.
Jams and jellies went very well this year. For the winter months early in the year, the orange and blood orange jellies were my favorites. They were simple but bright and sunny, like a summer day or a warm winter morning in a jar. From the summer months my 50/50 cherry jam was my standout personal favorite, but my tart cherry jam and peach-cherry jam recipes also brought in some rave reviews. People just love cherries, it seems.
I’ve started a very interesting little hobby in homebrewing. I’ve made some test batches of hard apple cider and now I’m playing with meads and melomels. There are a few more varieties of mead I’d like to try making before the summer fruit season rolls around and I can start playing with some fruit wine concoctions. All my test batches are still aging for now, but I’m hopeful about the final results.
I’m going to write up a whole post or two for my plans in the kitchen and garden, 2014. Stay tuned!