Harvest time or how to winterize your pantry

All the leaves are already past full color or already gone and I am enjoying the last couple of warm days ( presumably) until spring. It’s Fall and with Winter fastly approaching, I am going a bit into storage mode here. I guess yet another thing leftover in our system from long ago. But doesn’t the cold weather make you want to gather things too, stash them and store them up for the colder times coming? Winter IS coming. I feel like the guys from that HBO Series ‘game of thrones’ (I don’t have a TV, I got hooked on the books), if you’re watching that, you know the Starks of Winterfell, with their “winter is coming”. Crazy story, in that world they live in,  the seasons can last a lifetime, but just imagine once the tide is turning and you are facing Winter, and you don’t know for how many years? Gosh, makes you depressed and want to hibernate just thinking of it! I sure am glad we got four seasons, neatly coming around once a year, or thereabouts. Lately one wonders sometime, no?

In the last couple of weeks I made a yummy soup with the last couple of tomatoes from the garden, you know the rock hard green ones I saved from the hard frost the other week, now they finally made it to yellow and red and usable 🙂
But here’s what really convinced me its fall and getting colder, my saffron crocuses are blooming. Some days five or six others four at a time. Each little flower grows only three stigmas, and you have to hand pick and then dry them.   It takes 110,000–170,000 flowers or two football fields to gross one kilogram. No wonder this is the most expensive spice in the world! The average retail price is $1,000 per pound, or US$2,200 per kilogram. But boy is it awesome when you have that saffron risotto made with your very own hometown saffron! I don’t pluck the whole flower like in the picture below, I like having them bloom out there between all the fallen leaves.

 Kashmiri woman harvesting saffron flowersPart of my little harvest: dried on the left, fresh on the right

Please be aware that the saffron crocus is NOT your common garden crocus which bloom in the spring, that one is poisonous…

Other than that I have been busy preserving things for the colder months. I got a dehydration. Yeah, I finally broke down and bought one. So now i can dry apple slices and more…
I made mummy dries cinnamon apple and dried pineapple. Great for hiking. Weights nothing and tastes great!

imagePineapple dehydration is extremely useful when the pineapple isn’t as ripe as it looked at the store!


For the cinnamon apples, just slice thinly and sprinkle the apple slices with cinnamon before drying in the dehydrator in a single layer.


And I had to replenish my beans, as I ran out of black beans sometime before making the Santa Fe Chicken Soup and had to improvise with dark red kidney beans. Which by the way worked just fine 🙂

And of course I have been taking advantage of all the fall bounty in produce. With the shift to colder weather our bodies need different foods than in the summer. Cut back on cold salads, and reach for something warm, whether it’s a simple homemade vegetable soup,  braised brussels sprouts or a creamy soup, you need something warming and sustaining. Orange is the color of the season and sweet potato & co. are calling my name!

I have been enjoying Pumpkin Crêpes,  Pumpkin Cream Cheese stuffed French Toast, Apricot Pumpkin Muffins,  Kabocha Chowder and these Sweet Potato Spätzle, recipe will be up in the next couple of days, so check back soon!

© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Pear Vanilla Butter


Lately I have just been feeling like changing things. From putting summer clothes away, ‘Tiffany-ing’ my bathroom windows,


and just generally fixing up and changing things around the house. Home Depot has been my friend (if not my wallet’s…) and I will soon be the proud owner of a real garage door opener! Hey, it only took four and a half years of living here, but now in the winter, in the snow or rain, I can actually use my garage for what it was meant for. Right now I have to leap out of the car, unlock the garage door, (had to get a separate key chain for that), open it, run back to the car and drive in = Completely useless when it pours as it literally takes less time to run to the front door. Yay! Can’t wait 🙂

I also have been thinking about adding a tile back-splash in my kitchen, currently debating on colors.

But here’s what I’ve come across looking for some paperwork filed away in a box in the basement… I though I ate it all, but there it was: Pear Vanilla Butter, 2008.

I have been waiting forever, ok maybe not, almost two weeks, to share this with you. It was inspired by a recipe in a cook book on preserving, but for the love of me I can’t find where it was. Luckily I had jotted down some notes and can therefore (hopefully * I was saying a prayer here*) recreate it. Trust me, it is totally worth the time spent. It is the smoothest, most delicately flavored preserve you will ever make! If the best and most beautiful parts of fall turned into a single food, it would be this elegant and sophisticated jam! Move over pumpkin and apple! ( At least for a little while)

I vaguely remember the original recipe saying something about ‘keeps for 3 months’, but this little gem I found smells and tastes just like I remember and while I won’t recommend you try this at home, it seems perfectly fine to me (if this is the last post on this blog, you’ll know why 😉 )


  • 4 lb pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • about 5 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, slit open


  1. In a large pan, combine pears, water, lemon juice and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, uncover pan and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes, or until the pears are very soft.
  2. Remove vanilla bean and gently scrape out any seeds into the pan, using the rounded tip of a knife.
  3. Using a submersion blender*, and puree. You could also use your blender or food processor. Then press the resulting puree through a fine meshed strainer into a bowl.
  4. Measure puree into a large pan, adding  1 cup warmed sugar for every 2 cups of puree.
  5. Stir mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat and boil for 15 minutes or more, stirring, until mixture becomes a thick puree and holds its shape when a little is spooned onto a cold plate.
  6. Spoon boiling pear butter into small, sterilized jars, being careful not to get burned, leaving 1/2″ head space. Immediately seal. After cooled off, check for seal, label and store in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 2 days before serving for flavors to blend.
  7. Keeps for 3 months, refrigerate once opened.


Close up.. Mmmmh see the Vanilla seeds?


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