Dog Days of Summer

by Roxanne Garcia
It’s the Dog Days of Summer, it’s hot, it’s muggy, school has started, I long for cooler evenings. Yet, the vegetables are appreciating this climate by showboating with their abundance. This is the time of year when the crops are really coming in; I am busy in the kitchen prepping and freezing as much fresh produce that can possibly be jammed into my freezer. I find that freezing fruits and vegetables is much easier to handle for my small family because I can make the batches in quart sized freezer bags. For those of you that process and can your vegetables — I salute you. My Great Aunt and Grandmother in Las Cruces, New Mexico used to can all summer; lots of tomatoes, green chile and green chile salsas, quince jam, peaches, pickles, and my personal favorite — fig preserves.

Now is the time of year to start planning your pantry. Utilize your freezer space, shelf space and refrigerator so when you are seeking that fresh summer flavor, you aren’t heading to the grocery store but to your freezer section in your own home. What could be better than that?

Great freezer vegetables: Roasted Green Chiles — leave skin on or peel prior to putting in freezer, Green Beans, Corn — roasted, fresh, or on the cob, Tomatoes, Basil or Cilantro Pesto, Okra, and Summer Squash.

A small tip: if you have some left over, small bits of vegetables that didn’t quite make the cut, stems, peels, and cores (such as bell pepper cores), are great if you toss them all into a freezer bag that is labeled STOCK. I use this bag when I am ready to make home-made vegetable stock….I’m almost sure I can hear my grandmother saying “muy bien mijita!”