The weather yesterday, and again toady, is chilly, very windy, and very wet. The stiff wind begun to rob Mist Cottage of her comfort. The indoor temperature had been holding steady at 20C, despite single digit temperatures at night, until yesterday. The temperature dropped to 19C by yesterday morning, and was 18C when I arose this morning.
Yesterday I spent the day with four layers of clothing to stay comfortable. Even though I had changed the bedding to flannelette sheets, the cold was uncomfortable during the night. So this morning, when I arose, I turned on the heating system for the first time this autumn. For me, this means autumn has officially begun.
On Wednesday I did some steam canning. When I was done there were 10 jars of Green Tomato Salsa Verde cooling down on the table, all of them sealed.
I had roasted green tomatoes on Monday, but we decided that although they were nice, we would not roast any more of them. They are salty, so no matter how delicious they are, I won’t be eating them. And Attila wasn’t super keen, certainly not keen enough to warrant all of the oven time involved in preparing them. So roasted green tomatoes are not on my list of preservation methods for green tomatoes.
And the experimental fermenting goes on. We are trying to ferment Green Tomatoes, diced Brussels Sprout leaves, and Habanero peppers. So far so good with these jars, no mold and the pickle pipes seem to be working to release gases.
Yesterday morning I baked a batch of Cranberry Muffins for Attila’s lunches, and last night I processed a small batch of ripe tomatoes to be made into pizza sauce.
Also last night Attila brought in another 8 pounds of green tomatoes. And more to come he says. I admit to alarm! My oh my we have tomatoes! It was decided that another batch of Green Tomato Salsa Verde wouldn’t go amiss, so that is what I will be up to today.
Our weekend is reserved for preserving our bushel of Northern Spy apples.
And then, and then, well then just maybe harvest season will be over for this year.
I don’t know how many Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Swiss Chard, or Cabbage will be harvested. Not too much I hope, and I never dreamed I would hope such a thing.
Really my eyes are beginning to cross with all of this bounty. And I have an appliance that will shred and chop the produce. What hard work people did to feed large families, without even electricity! Of course, children worked along with the adults in rural populations (most people in history), survival was a family affair.
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 18 October 2019
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Dew point: 2.6°C
Wind: WNW 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Many hands make light work.” This proverb was first recorded in English in the early 1300s in a knightly romance known as Sir Bevis of Hampton.
This is the Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada. Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! [Ha! Got distracted yesterday, and this did not get posted. So a belated Happy Thanksgiving!]
Saturday was cloudy and cool, a perfect day for being indoors. And a lovely day indoors it was, as Luna brought the Biggles (our Grandbabies Imp, Elf, and Tink) to share a Thanksgiving feast at Terra’s house, where the Littles reside, (Sunny, Sky, and Willow). I call them the Biggles and Littles because both families consist of twins followed by a single child, one set aged 13 and 9, the other set aged 3 and 1. We last saw the Grandbabies last Christmas, and how they have grown and changed. Imp and Elf are teenagers now! Willow is one year old and walking! What fun we had playing with them, watching them play with each other. Who knew this much love could reside in one heart. They are like a rainbow of colours, each of them oh so special, in their very own, beautiful way!
Terra and Lares cooked a wonderful Roast Chicken dinner, and we brought Strawberry Rhubarb Squares for dessert, with lots of ice cream. By the time we headed home, we had already said goodnight to the Littles, and said farewell to the oldest of the Biggles, but Tink had fallen asleep, so we threw her kisses so as not to awaken her.
Sunday we arose early and headed to the Camp. There was much to do. Attila brought the relatively new chain saw, in hopes of segmenting the fallen trees in the swamp, which is temporarily dry, so that we could remove them. But alas, the chain saw would not start, so back to the shop for warranty work!
I burned brush all day, dragging dead brush from various locations near the camping area. I am having to venture a little further afield now, which of course means that the camping area is mostly cleared and looking great! Attila blew the leaves off the driveway, and prepped the slide on Grace The Trailer, so that it could be retracted. We removed all the canned goods and the last of the fabrics from the trailer, as well as the clocks with their batteries, moved the furniture so that the slide would not bump into anything, then fired up the generator and retracted the slide. We found no dead mice, or evidence of mice, which was wonderful. But we can smell that something is trying to nest somewhere in the trailer, probably under the floor. Attila found entry points, that had been filled with foam, that had been chewed into. He plans now on removing a section of the undercarriage to replace with a sheet of metal, they won’t be able to chew through that!
The leaves were at their peak, and glorious. The sun shone all day, and the breeze rustled the leaves, occasionally bringing down a magnificent fluttering of colour. There are still a few tasks left to close the Camp for the winter, but most of the work is done.
Today is a smorgasbord of activities.
Attila is planting the Rhubarb roots that Luna gave us, she wanted them gone, as she doesn’t cook with rhubarb, and they were taking over her garden. Also, Lares does not like rhubarb, but we do, so they have found a very good home with us. Attila is also harvesting more produce, tomatoes, beets, ground cherries, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts. He is also cooking a full course roasted chicken dinner, featuring our home grown organic beets and greens, home grown organic Brussels sprouts, and a zucchini tomato casserole using our homegrown organic canned tomatoes and fresh from the garden zucchini. As if that were not enough to keep him busy, we chopped the lush leaves left on the Brussels sprout plants, chopped them, and have begun a ferment with them. Attila is also fermenting a jar of Habanero peppers.
I have been busy in the kitchen since Friday. Thursday I took a day off, and just lounged around, with just a few odd jobs to do, laundry, paying bills, etc. I took a break from the kitchen.
I was back in the kitchen Friday. We needed bread, so it was bread baking day. I use eggs in my bread, and whenever I break an egg into a bowl, I save the egg shells. I rinse them, remove the inner membrane, and set them out on a plate to dry completely. When I have collected quite a few, I use a mortar and pestle to pulverize them into a powder, which I keep in a jar in the kitchen. We used almost of those pulverized egg shells in the garden this year, almost all of it. But I have all winter long to replenish the supply.
The other project I have tackled is another batch of pizza sauce, and this morning I place four more containers of pizza sauce in the freezer. The pizza sauce went into the space in the freezer that the chicken for today’s dinner came out of. Freezer space is that tight right now, something has to come out, before anything else can go in. Thank goodness we are beginning to explore fermentation, another way to create shelf stable food in jars.
The fermentation process is relatively new to me, so much of what I do is experimental. My first batch of Sauerkraut, made from the garden cabbage, was delicious. In early October we tried another batch with a store bought cabbage, and learned a thing or two. The cabbage was 3 pounds, and we tried to get it all into one mason jar. It went in, but there wasn’t a lot of head space, and there should have been. So the liquid bubbled out of the top of the ferment, which went dry, and then some beautifully coloured growths developed in the jar. As pretty as that was, it was not edible. So we had to through it out. So the conclusion was that we should not tamp down the cabbage so tightly in the jar, and that it is important to leave at least an inch of headspace above the pickle pebble. I will try again soon!
We had frost again last night and it is predicted again for tonight. Attila was prepared, all of the garden, except the Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and Swiss chard, were covered. Attila was off to work early this morning, so the garden will stay covered until he gets home from work. Since it is sunny today, I am hoping that the coverings, clear plastic, will create a slight greenhouse effect, providing enough heat to ripen more of the tomatoes and peppers.
The tomato harvest is slowing down a bit. Last night another two or three quarts of ripe tomatoes were pureed. This morning I added them to a large stock pot with the previously pureed tomatoes that were stored in the refrigerator. A few ingredients were thrown in, such as fresh onion and garlic, and a mixture of herbs. The tomatoes were simmered over a low heat for a few hours, until they were the perfect consistency for spreading on a pizza. After they cooled in the pot, they were measured into tubs, which were labelled and placed in the freezer. We will soon have enough pizza sauce to make pizza once a week for a year. We enjoy our weekly homemade pizza!
Our homemade pizza is made with dough made from our own freshly ground organic whole wheat flour. The pizza sauce is our own, organic. The toppings however, are store bought; red peppers, hot peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni, Vidalia onions, cheese, herbs. Eventually we would like to grow our own organic red peppers. and ferment our own hot peppers. This year though, our pepper plants only produced enough for our immediate use, pureed pepper sauce, and a few 500-ml jars of fermented peppers. I learned a thing or two about growing peppers though, and am looking forward to trying again next growing season.
On Sunday we sliced up a three pound cabbage to make one quart of sauerkraut. Just a bit too much cabbage for the project, but Attila managed to get it all into the jar. I think the jar might have been overfull, because there is quite a bit of liquid coming out of the pickle pipe, about a third of cup so far. This became problematic because the residue was drying on the pickle pipe opening and preventing it from functioning to release gas. When I went this morning to check on it, the pickle pipe was swollen with the pressure from the gas inside the jar, and when I released it there was a fountain of liquid that squirted all over the place.
I brought the jar of fermenting sauerkraut upstairs from the basement, to keep it in the kitchen where I can keep an eye on it. After releasing the pressure, I rinsed the still sealed jar and pickle pipe under the tap, and gently cleaned the vent on the pickle pipe. Hopefully it will begin again to release the fermentation gases as it was intended.
Lesson learned! Do not fill the fermentation jar too full! It needs at least an inch, probably more, of headspace.
Observation about sauerkraut fermentation: the house is going to smell like dirty socks! Luckily the human nose, at least my human nose, becomes inured to mildly objectionable odours after a few hours. I certainly hope that the odour does not collect in my hair and clothing though! How would I know.
We have our apples. On Monday Attila took a run to an apple farm on his way home from work, and purchase a bushel of apples, seconds. My preferred cooking apple is the Northern Spy, so we were very lucky to find them, and to find them as seconds was a big bonus. The price was $25 for the bushel.
Now the work begins. This year I’ve decided to make a small batch of Mincemeat and a lot of Applesauce to can. As well, starting today, I will be baking with apples every few days. Today it will be Apple Oatmeal Squares, and a batch of Apple Muffins. I’ll even do a small Apple Crisp in a mug for my lunch today, yum!
The volume of produce coming out of the garden is declining. This is our entire carrot harvest, and as you can see, not everything in the garden yielded a large harvest. The carrots are about two inches long. Back to the drawing board on carrot planting for next year’s garden. The Brussels Sprout leaves are edible, and I hadn’t tried eating them before. After sauteing them for breakfast, I found they neither added nor detracted from the taste of the dish, so I would say they are mild flavoured, and good for stir fry meals, soups, and stews. I might even try fermenting them!
These were the basic ingredients for my breakfast this morning. I finely chopped the carrots and the broccoli leaves, then sauteed them in olive oil, with chopped onion and garlic. I seasoned it with 1/4 teaspoon of Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper herb mix, then broke an egg into it and when the egg was ready, breakfast!
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 9 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Dew point: 6.8°C
Wind: ENE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Samuel Johnson 1709 – 1784
It has been getting colder through the week, which one might expect in October. Last Tuesday though, the temperature reached 27C, and humidex was 34C. It was summer’s last gasp. So here we are, just a few days later with out first frost.
This morning when I arose at 5:45 a.m., I am an early riser, the thermometer outside the kitchen window read -2C. The colours in the yard, and on the rooftops, were muted white, with a thick layer of frost.
Attila covered up the garden last night with yards and yards of plastic sheeting, purchased specifically for this purpose. Since the weather reports indicate that the night time temperature will not drop below 5C again for the next two weeks, it is hoped that the garden would be protected from frost damage, and carry on for another few weeks.
After waiting for the sun to rise and bring some warmth, Attila uncovered the plants. The cascade of tiny shards of ice from the plastic sheets, as they were removed, sparkled in the sun. The casualty list is short so far, the basil perished. The rest of the garden looks as if it survived, but we will know for sure by tomorrow, when any effects will become obvious.
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Saturday 5 October 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 103.3 kPa
Dew point: 4.0°C
Wind: NE 11 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious.” William Feather 1908 – 1976
This seems petty to me. Although I’ve observed this to be true for many people, as a morning person I have never experienced this phenomena. I do not understand it. I don’t find cheerful people with sleeping habits other than my own obnoxious; unless they prevent me from sleeping. I have to say though, I’ve never lived with another morning person, so I spend most beautiful early hours in solitude, contemplating life in the quiet of gentle morning light.
I will start by saying how very much I like (is love appropriate for inanimate objects, if it is I love) the new front door. I love how the small window lets in the light, and lets me see the tree tops, leaves fluttering in the wind today. I like that it doesn’t let the cold air into the house. I like that it opens and closes so easily. I like that the door handle and lock work so smoothly. I like that the new storm door opens on the same side as the entry door, this is a big one! The old set of doors we had, the entry door opened on the right, and the screen door opened on the left, and it was quite interesting to get them open at the same time in order to pass through them, particularly when carrying objects. Attila did a great job on the new front entry!
I don’t think Attila enjoyed installing the new door. The way he just kept on tackling frustration after frustration to retrofit the entry door was inspiring. He is very, very, very glad that the job is done. There are more doors though, that need replacing, but those projects are so far down on the renovation list that they don’t even count.
There are some projects that I dislike. I wouldn’t say I hate them, but I definitely have attitude going on. One of those jobs is installing window film. What an awful job! I don’t like anything about it: the measuring; the cutting; cleaning the surfaces; spraying the adhesive (water in this case); applying the film; removing bubbles from the applied film. Nothing about this project is appealing except the results.
I have been putting off this project, applying window film, for weeks now. ANY other project, task, responsibility, even cleaning the toilet, seems preferable. But today the weather has turned colder, and I realized that I had better get to it, or I might have to wait until next spring to tackle it.
So here I am, revelling in writing, while I should be proceeding with the window film installation. I have broken the project down into small segments, to encourage myself to keep going. The first segment was gathering the needed materials; spray bottle of water; film; table covered with cardboard for cutting; exacto knife; tape measure; pen; and paper. Phew, had to rest after all that!
After a bit of break, I washed the windows in question. Oh my God I don’t like this, had to rest after all that!
After this break, I measured the window film, and marked the area to be cut for just one window of the two. Somebody help me, this is awful, had to rest after all that!
After this break, I measured and cut the film for the second window. Thank you universe, please let this be right! Had to rest after all that!
This break is when I began this entry, and writing made me feel a lot better. A little hand holding can go a long way when the going gets tough. (First world problem, I know, lucky me!)
Okay, back to it.
The next step was to move the furniture out of the way, and all of the items around the window. This is a very small house, every project involves moving something out of the way. Wherever you move it to, it is instantly in the way. Such is living small.
Once that was accomplished, I decided to push on, keep going. The first window was misted with water and the film was applied. Whoah, hills and dales, time for the squeegee. This window took quite a while to smooth out. The film had to be pulled out and reapplied four or five times, but in the end, it was OK. The second window went a lot quicker, there is no substitute for experience.
I used all of the window film that would fit on these windows. There are smaller bits of it left, which can be applied in smaller applications, but not enough to do another window. There are four windows to cover, so more film will have to be purchased at another time, when finances are more fluid, and warm weather returns.
So, it is done!!!! Relief is palpable.
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Thursday 3 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Dew point: 4.2°C
Wind: NE 18 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“She is a friend of my mind… The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” Toni Morrison 1931 –