EVERYBODY CELEBRATES the season's first asparagus. But we forget to honor the last -- the end of the plums, the waning tomatoes. Understandably we've had our fill and are looking for something new; but come December and the need to stuff stockings and buffet tables, we may wish we had lingered in autumn over a few more canning jars. So today we give you one last encouragement for some end-of-the-harvest relishes, chutneys and pickles.
If this tempts you only to consume rather than to produce, you can stock up Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 6 through 8, on homemade jellies, jams, vinegars, mustards, chutneys, even pastas and breads, at the Junior League Christmas shop in the Mayflower Hotel. This annual fundraiser is going much more heavily into homemade goods this year, with 95 percent of the foodstuffs being the work of local members. They have been putting up jars of wine jelly and dilly beans for months and been baking english muffins and gingerbread sleighs in an Arlington church since the beginning of September. This will also be a place to fill in your collection of Junior League cookbooks; 24 titles will be for sale. Admission to the shop, which will also be stocked with plenty of non-edible gifts, will be $3.50; it will be open 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Here are recipes for some of the Junior League's wares. WINE JELLY (Makes 5 to 6 half pint jars) 3 1/4 cups wine (port or rose) 6 cups sugar 2 envelopes (6 ounces) liquid pectin
Mix sugar and wine over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Keep mixture over very low heat and add pectin. Bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Skim off foam and pour in hot jars. Process 10 minutes. PEARS BURGUNDY (Makes 1 quart) 2 cups red wine 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar Pinch of cinnamon Pinch of nutmeg 3 cloves 4 pears, peeled with the tips left on
Boil wine with sugar and spices. Add pears and bring to a boil again. Boil 15 minutes if you prefer firm pears or 30 minutes if you prefer softer pears. Process 15 minutes. DILLY BEANS (Makes 6 half pints) 2 pounds green beans Fresh dill 6 cloves garlic 1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon whole mustard seed 2 1/2 cups water 2 1/2 cups vinegar 1/4 cup salt
Wash beans. In each jar put stem of dill, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed. Pack green beans tightly. Boil water, vinegar and salt and pour in jars. Process 5 minutes. PICKLED MUSHROOMS (Makes 6 half pints) 1 cup white vinegar 1 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 clove garlic 1 bay leaf 2 cloves 4 peppercorns 12 ounces button mushrooms, washed in warm water, rinsed in cold 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
Put the vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over slow heat. Put the garlic, bay leaf, cloves and peppercorns in a tea ball or cheesecloth and add to vinegar mixture. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover, let stand 15 minutes. Remove tea ball. Drain.
Divide olive oil and tarragon vinegar between the hot, clean jars. Add mushrooms, poking down with wooden spoon dipped in boiling water. Leave 1/2 inch head space. Put on lids and bands and process 10 minutes. You may not even want to wait until Wednesday, once you have apple-orange marmalade or ruby jars of pears in wine on your mind. Today, then, you can buy homemade preserves and such, made from 18th-century recipes and sold in the 18th-century environment of Waterford, Va. It is the last day of the town's annual homes tour and crafts exhibit, and besides the bake-and-cook sale, there will be soups and sandwiches and barbecue and apple cider, all the foods that keep Virginians happy through the winter. It will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and while the wandering around is free, admission to the homes, exhibits and entertainment will cost $5. Not bad for a once-a-year chance to buy a Hummingbird Cake. You're too late, though, for what may have been Washington's biggest free feed, 10 days of public lunches and dinners at the Shoreham Hotel in honor of President Marcos' visit. Word was slow in getting around, so the first few days were quiet. But as the grapevine informed the Filipino community, anybody who wanted a free meal -- abalone, roast pork, mountains of snow peas, free-flowing beer and drinks made with top brands of liquor -- began to descend on the Shoreham ballrooms. Admission was open, and the events included spectacular shows of Filipino dancing. By Saturday, with Marcos himself in attendance, 5,000 were reported to have been fed in that single day. During the 10 days, it was said, 20,000 free meals were consumed. What does such an extravaganza cost? Ordinarily a catered meal like that would cost a minimum of $22 to $30 a person with drinks, taxes and tips. But the Shoreham catering department would only say that since the Philippine Embassy contributed staff and some of the foodstuffs, the cost was "considerably lower." It took us aback, considering the beef-and-pork orientation of this Republican administration: At a solidly Republican cocktail party, none other than a shindig for his backers by Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.), Ridgewell's was passing trays of tiny alfalfa sprout sandwiches on whole wheat bread. True, they weren't being wolfed down as quickly as the tartar steak canapes, but even the idea of serving "health food" at a Republican cocktail party, passed on silver trays by waiters in black tie, confuses us. Does anybody know these days what real men really eat?