A Nod to November

The rains have finally arrived. Too late for many of the crops - most of my fruit is diminshed in size and/or quantity. Almost no plums, apples, pears, and the paw paws are smaller. The persimmons are great, falling at a rapid rate. A couple of days ago I saw a coyote in the back yard. He stopped, as I did, and we had a bit of a stand-off until he decided to lope off. I guess that would account for the scat I found in the yard. It was full of persimmon seeds! Last year I saw a pheasant taking advantage of the dropped fruit. Hopefully I will get to pick some and make some fruit leathers again. A bonus to all that dropped fruit is I have many young trees. I am letting some grow and hope to transplant them to my place in Royalston.

My witch hazel is blooming, and the leaves of most of the trees are gone, waiting to be spread on my garden beds. The spice bush is putting on a grand show of color, as are the sassafras trees in the woods where I walk. I am surprised at the beautiful color of the leaves this year. Most were concerned that the lack of rain would affect the color, but that has not proven to be so. I've filled the bird feeder and put out suet, so the birds are pretty happy. Last of the weeding and mowing is on-going; I need a break and am looking forward to some inside time.

The one plant that had benefited from all the heat are my pepper plants. They have just now succumbed to the frost, but I have harvested enough to keep me in good supply all winter, I think. I have dried them, frozen them, made salsa, and used them fresh. Today I will make a hot pepper jelly, using up the last of the fresh ones. I love pepper jelly, using it as an appetizer (with cream cheese) or brushed on broiled lamb chops or other meats. I had a recipe for 5 pepper jelly that I loved, but I can't find it now. Too many cookbooks! I did find one on-line that uses vinegar as the base, as did the one I used before, so I will adapt that and see if I can re-create my favorite. Of course, with all the odds and ends of peppers I have, it will probably come out as a 8 pepper jelly, but that's fine, too. The peppers on the tray below are (L to R) Fatali (pretty dam hot!), bird pepper, Aji Habanero (not too spicy but pretty orange), Count Dracula (purple turning to red), Hinkelhatz, and Bulgarian Carrot. I'll be adding some Sweet Pimento to the jelly as well as cracked plack pepper. Of course, black pepper is not in the same family as sweet and chile peppers, but it balances the flavors nicely. Since Capsicum is Herb of the Year (TM) for 2016, it's fitting to end my harvest with using some of these great varieties.

Next year, the Herb of the Year is Coriander/Cilantro. IHA is hard at work creating their signature Herb of the Year book, so look for it soon. I have taken a break from editing, but have written an article on the use of coriander in perfumes and spirits. It looks to be another great publication, and cilantro and peppers certainly go hand in hand. Their book on Capsicum is still available, so go to www.iherb.org if you would like to order a copy.

Enjoy the changing seasons,