Season Wrap-up

After a scorching-hot summer in Montana—literally, with more than 1 million acres burned—fall has come on fast and furious, with a chance of snow at my house this morning. The quick downshift from summer to practically winter instantly affected the garden. Overnight, cucumbers and snap beans stopped growing, apples began falling, and large leaves of self-seeded spinach reappeared in my overgrown and ignored spring cold frame.

Within the hoop house, plants are weathering the weather better, but it won’t be long before I’m forced to admit the final round of peppers and tomatillos won’t grow larger and the remaining tomatoes won’t turn red on the vine. Fortunately, unripened produce can still land in the kitchen instead of the compost. With the right timing, you can enjoy every last late-season vegetable.
Read more about wrapping up the garden

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Chilies

You could call this week’s main recipe a food fail. A couple of years ago, I set out to make homemade sriracha. I had grocery bags full of hot peppers that season, and I thought some were destined to become chipotles for Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa and others would be fermented to replicate the flavor of the classic Thai chili sauce and paste.

Then we started smoking chilies and attempting to find the perfect balance of smoke and heat. Suddenly I had grocery bags of smoked chilies—which would not ferment. Even at the low temperatures used for smoking, the heat was high enough to kill off the natural bacteria in the peppers that are essential for fermentation. But I was too stubborn not to try. And although my chili paste never fermented, it was delicious.

So now I make Home-Smoked Chili Paste every year and have yet to miss that bottle sriracha on my shelf. I’ve since learned that adding a culture could allow me to smoke and then ferment, so expect more experimentation down the road. But for now, what could be called a food fail has turned into a favorite kitchen staple.
Learn to smoke chilies and make Home-Smoked Chili Paste

Grilled Tomatoes

I grill a lot of vegetables, from asparagus to tomatillos, but I probably spend the most time grilling tomatoes. Not only are they delicious on a skewer with other vegetables for dinner, but they’re also fabulous when pulled off the canning shelf or from the freezer. And the process for grilling large tomatoes is easy: slice them in half, sear them cut side down on a hot grill for a couple of minutes, and then flip and cook a few more minutes until soft.

Those of us with large gardens quickly come up with enough grilled tomato batches for canner loads of salsa, Bloody Mary mix, and pasta sauce. But in recent years, I’ve been running a small batch to freeze in cubes—the perfect size to drop into a soup, spread on a pizza crust, or simply dip into with mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pizza Sauce and Stuffed and Grilled Breadsticks

Grill It, Roast It, Smoke It

And just like that, September is here. Long before I’m ready for summer to be over, the month that signals the start of fall rolls in. But even though a few of August’s garden-fresh favorites are finished for the season, September’s list of harvestable fruits and vegetables is the longest of year, with the last of the summer beans, berries, and corn bumping up against the first of the fall greens, plums, and winter squash.

If August is the month for enjoying fresh fruit and veg, September is the month for adding a bit of charred, caramelized, and smoky flavor to the produce on the table. We’ll be grilling, roasting, and smoking all month at Twice as Tasty—mostly thanks to some incredible response from recent Twice as Tasty workshops.

Although my September schedule is quickly filling up, it’s not too late to get in on the current lineup or featured workshops locally. And Twice as Tasty will be on the road again in late October! For more details, click here.
Read more about grilling, roasting, and smoking