It is early fall 2012 and our raised bed garden on Lookout Mountain is still beautiful and productive. Many of the summer vegetables, berries, and fruits have retired for the year and the cool season veggies such as collards and mustard are beginning to produce. The chestnuts drop from their summer perches enticing the deer to visit multiple times per day. The black walnuts begin to litter the ground and the dirt roadway that winds to the back of our property ending at one of our family ancestor’s home-place. Hard green pear trees planted nearly a hundred years ago blanket the ground nearby the home-place that are perfect for making preserves and relish. Our fig trees have just finished producing their sweet bounty and the most of the apples have fallen.
The white ginger lilies are still blooming and aggressively fill their corner of the garden with a sweet ginger fragrance. God’s handiwork is apparent everywhere.
This is the time of the year we often just sit in the chairs in the open-air pavilion in the center of our garden and take in all of God’s creation. The ruby-throated hummingbirds zoom overhead and prepare for their long flight home by spending more time at the feeders. The comparatively docile songbirds visit the squirrel-proof bird feeders and the butterflies dance from one blooming flower to another. The breezes are cooler as the days grow shorter by losing two minutes of precious light a day. The flowering dogwoods are displaying their fall red leaves and red berries as they prepare to hibernate for the winter.
We don’t like to waste any of the output from the garden so we have spent a lot of time canning and freezing the bounty this summer. Towards the end of the summer season when we are tired of all the work associated with the preserving exercise we say to each other “I’m done … no more canning or freezing, please!” But the beautiful bounty entices me to find ways to preserve and enjoy it next winter with the minimum of effort. That’s what led me to spend the better part of a day peeling, slicing, dicing, and measuring (really?) a special blend of peppers (poblano, anaheim and jalapeno), onions, carrots, green and semi-ripe tomatoes, and carrots.
I removed the seeds from all of the peppers except the jalapeno. I added vinegar, sweetener and a bit of water to the mixture and cooked it down for several hours. This process produced just over 5 finished pints of colorful and hot relish that I have donned as “Jim’s Super Relish.” I limited the number of jalapeno peppers so that the mixture wouldn’t be overly hot … but it was a guess. When I first tasted it early in the cooking process it set my lips on fire. But as it continued to cook down the stinging hotness lessened. The end result tastes wonderful … but I don’t yet know what it will do to the digestive system. Only time will tell!