Autumn Pleasures by Callie Endicott

 Hi, everyone!

I've tried to get pictures like this with
autumn color, but they've never satisfied me.
Maybe fall is a
state of mind, as much as a season.
I love this time of year.  The leaves turn gorgeous colors, it’s a great time to travel, there’s a crisp feel to the air that says mother nature is getting ready for a winter’s sleep, storm clouds move in and out…  I could go on and on, but needless to say, it’s a season I cherish.  Ironically, I’ve never taken any pictures of fall color that speak to my soul.

  My great-grandfather used to say
the best way to eat corn is to build a
fire in the field with a big kettle,
then bend the stalk holding the ear of

corn into the hot water to cook. 
I don't know if he was serious--he had a
terrific sense of humor, but it's true that
the sugar in corn starts converting
to starch after it's picked. The closer to picking,
the sweeter it is.
Fall is a busy time for me, even when I’m not traveling or working on a manuscript deadline.  Autumn is when the majority of bulk fruits and veggies for canning/freezing become available in our area, so I’m generally busy filling the freezer, canning tomatoes, making jam, western chili sauce, bread and butter pickles, etc.

Perhaps the urge to can/freeze/preserve stems from my pioneer roots, because my mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers were all dedicated canners/preservers.  My great-grandmothers learned it from their mothers, and so on.  Besides, doing it myself means I know how the food has been handled.  Home preservation reduces chemicals and the produce has come from organic growers I trust, or wild fruit we've picked ourselves.  Preserving your own food used to be a way to save money, but no longer, so that’s one reason I’m really busy during the peak of the season when produce prices drop. 

Special variety of tomatoes. 
Not so great for eating fresh, great for sauces and canning.
I have to admit that I often jump into my first canning of the growing season totally unprepared--usually when I stumble on an early box of tomatoes or something else the grower is selling for a low price because they’re overstocked.  Usually the produce is quite ripe and needs to be rushed home for processing as quickly as possible.  No prepping the kitchen, just a push to get good food in a jar or the freezer before it has a chance to go bad.  This year it was a box of pears--to change things up, I sometimes use pear or apple butter when making cinnamon rolls.

New Mexico peppers.  They have more kick than
Anaheims, which we like, too.
The unexpected bargain is fun, but right now I’m in the middle of my full-blown, planned, get-it-done stage.  I’ve prepared for this by pulling out and checking all the empty canning jars.  The lids and rings have been sorted.  The canning kettles have been retrieved from where they’ve been gathering dust since last November.  I’m well stocked on freezer bags, sugar (for jams, pickles, zucchini relish, pepper sauce, etc.), canning salt, vinegar and the other necessary ingredients.  My favorite grower is regularly filling my orders (they claim I’m their best private customer). 

Oh, yeah, and my feet hurt. 

This is a new peeler. I just bought it off the internet.
The old one still works, but it no longer looks so great. 
However, they both work the same way.
The biggest difference between the two
 is that the new one has metal prongs

to hold the apples.
Every year I reach a point where I say, “That's it, I’m done.”  This is a family joke, because we all know an unexpected late bargain will get me going again. The latest is a great buy on organic apples and peppers.  By the way, my inexpensive little apple peeler is probably the best kitchen tool I’ve EVER used.  It isn’t one of those metal ones, it’s mostly plastic and works like a charm. I've peeled hundreds of apples with the thing.

I can't speak for everyone who does canning, but a particularly satisfying sound is the “ping” of a jar lid as the contents cool.  I love lying in bed and hearing the ping, pop, ping of my last batch of the evening.
Our second freezer. 
It's small, but holds a surprising amount.
The packages on the bottom are
green salsa.
There’s a great sense of accomplishment when I see shelves filled with my canning efforts, or open the freezer and see the neatly stacked freezer bags filled with corn and other fruits and veggies.

Apple Pie.  During the holidays
 I add cranberries to apple pie for color and zip.

Of all the traditional “home arts,” canning and freezing are what I enjoy most. Of course, I also make more pies and cobblers when fresh fruit is available, along with pasta salad (loaded with peppers and zucchini) and raw corn salad (it‘s delicious, especially when the corn is super sweet).  So I’m also having to exercise more because of all those calories.

One of the great things about canning is that is provides time for quiet thought and reflection.  I remember my first canning session after my mother passed away--the memories were so strong, I sobbed through most of it.  Yet it was good as well, because those memories were wonderful.  But for the most part I think about my stories or just clear my head.  We live in a complicated world and it’s helpful to have a repetitive task that lets me unwind.  Gardening is the same way.  It’s hard work and I can focus on the effort, instead of all the other “noise” in my life. 

Hachiya persimmons from my mother's tree.
This is the variety used in our family pudding.

I also reflect on the rich traditions passed down through the family.  Traditions can be lost and rediscovered, such as when nobody asked my great-grandmother how she made her persimmon pudding.  For some reason nobody ever learned how from her, so when we lost her, we thought the recipe was lost forever.  Then a member of the family visited Indiana during the fall season and discovered it was a regional specialty.  It’s delicious, so I freeze enough persimmons for more than one batch of pudding over the holidays.

Red jalapenos are used in sriracha sauce. 
To properly ferment before cooking,
the sauce needs the sugar
 that develops when jalapenos turn red. 

I'll take out the red ones for sriracha and 
sweet-sour pepper sauce (my own recipe),
 and use the rest in salsa.
Salsa is an entire food group
as far as we're concerned.
By the way, I love exploring new recipes.  Two years ago I gave homemade sriracha sauce a shot.  We hadn’t been able to find an organic sriracha sauce and love how it turns out.  Fair warning, though, the garlic odor becomes more and more intense as it ferments.  If you've never made it and decide to give homemade sriracha a shot, be forewarned--the house will reek for several days.  One thing I do different from my recipe is leave the pulp in the mix.  I figure the pulp has just as much flavor, so why waste it?  We just spoon the sauce out of the jar instead of pouring it.  My latest experiment is going to be chili paste (the one from the store has fish, which I‘m allergic to).

Any ideas of something new to try? 

Oh, yeah...about my next book.  It's coming out in December and is called FAMILY BY DESIGN.  This will be the third book in my Emerald City Stories series, the second to be published by Harlequin Heartwarming. The first published by Heartwarming was A FATHER FOR THE TWINS (June 2018). 


A different view of the Seattle Space Needle



  1. Everything looks delicious! What a lovely piece! I recall those canning scents in my grandmother's kitchen, and then when I was a bit of a "back to the land-er" (before we decided to become "back to the sea-ers") I played around with canning and enjoyed it--for a season. Then the novelty wore off and I never took the time for it, but I so admire those of you who do. I'll look forward to your upcoming release.

    1. Canning seems to be going through a resurgence, though it isn't everyone's cup of tea. My mom raised seven children and got "seconds" from packing plants and other places. Now the growers call them "canning" produce and charge more. I'm told that when my older brothers were young they rarely had a meal during the year when they didn't have some type of produce she'd canned. Apparently the garage was lined with shelves. One year they had a bad earthquake and the motion of the quake didn't knock the jars off the shelves. The jars behind the front row knocked together and broke. It was a mess, but that was before I was born, so I only heard about it in stories.

  2. Everything looks so good. I've never tasted a persimmon, but I want to. My mother always canned green beans (which I loved) and black-eye-peas (which I didn't), and froze corn on the cob. The whole family was involved in shucking and shelling and snapping. We can rhubarb sauce and freeze pumpkin puree, but otherwise eat fresh from the garden. Enjoy your bounty.

    1. Persimmons are delicious, in my opinion. I like the kind that can be eaten crisp, but grew up loving the ones you have to eat soft (the ones in the picture). Some people don't like the texture of the soft ones. They grow wild in Indiana & are very small - I've eaten a wild one in Arkansas too. I sympathize about the black-eyed peas - but in my family we ate them as snaps, more like string beans, and we love them that way, not so much the way most folks eat them. Rhubarb sauce is delicious; in my house we love our rhubarb straight up-no other fruits needed.

  3. I love the pictures! While I remember enjoying having canned, I can't say I ever grew to love much of the process. I will admit that I miss home-canned tomato juice--there was just something about it...

    1. Sometimes I don't enjoy the process, but love the end result so much I put up with it, especially for tomatoes. I really do like knowing how they've been handled. I've never canned corn or things requiring pressure-cookers, being a little nervous of that. By the time I came along late in the family, Mon wasn't doing it so I never got lessons in that direction.

  4. I grew up picking crops and canning and making jams and jellies from end of summer to fall. I did some after I got married and we began moving a lot with dh's military then job. Until I landed in hot Texas then hotter Arizona. Now I buy my stuff at the grocery store. But I miss the really fresh produce we used to grow or be able to buy when I lived in Oregon and Washington state. Looking forward to your next book. Loved the last one.

    1. I'm glad you like the book. I've canned in hot weather without an air conditioner and it's beastly. I'm not sure I'd do it again. Since I've never lived in Arizona or Texas, I'm not familiar with the crops grown in either state, but you're right about the Pacific Northwest being a great place for produce. It may be the longer days there. Supposedly in Alaska they have such long days in the summer it produces giant cabbages.

  5. Beautiful pictures! I do a lot of canning also. And freezing. We also get a lot of roasted green chili and freeze them. Nothing better than fresh roasted chilis!

    1. I want to try roasting my own chilies - with that bag of them in the picture. I've never gotten the hang of it, but will give it another try this year. When I go through Albuquerque I like to buy a gallon or two of roasted peppers, but haven't been there for a couple of years.

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  7. Yum! Putting food by is a labor of love and it's clear that you love what you're doing. Listening for the "ping" of the jars sealing, that made me smile. Such a satisfying sound!

    1. Got an amazing buy on organic apples, so I've been doing extra applesauce this week. But I'm also going to make my great-grandmother's apple dumplings as a weekend treat. Isn't harvest season a wonderful time?


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