Frost Again Last Night

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!

Worldly

Weather

10°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 9 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 9.8°C
Dew point: 6.8°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: ENE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”
Samuel Johnson
1709 – 1784

One foot in front of the other…

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.

The window film on the living room window. The traffic, vehicle and pedestrian, that travels past our front door and windows, has increased tremendously. There are always vehicles and people just outside the house. It can be very distracting, and it is not a welcome change.
The window film allows me the view I appreciate, the sky and the trees, while the constant movement on the street is masked. I can still look out at it if needed. The sounds are still there, but without visual movement, they are less intrusive. The light shines through the window treatment, today is a cloudy and dismal day, so it is as bright as ever in the living room, just a lot more restful.

Worldly

Weather

8°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Thursday 3 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.9°C
Dew point: 4.2°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: NE 18 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“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 –

Experimentation

When canning I seldom experiment beyond what sounds good to me. No failures to date, all the things I have canned we have loved, either as a food, or as an ingredient.

But all these Zucchini needed attention! Today!

I have enough relish, more than 24 jars, and only I eat it, so really, I don’t need more relish. So, I can afford to make a batch of relish a little differently. If I fail to produce something I like with this zucchini, well, it wouldn’t be the end of the world as I know it, now would it.

So I decided that this morning it was time to experiment with Liquid Stevia as an alternative to sugar in high-acid canning, relish in this case. I could have chosen pickles, but I prefer cucumbers for pickles, and I eat those raw as fast they are harvested. So relish it was. Liquid Stevia was substituted for the entire amount of sugar called for in the recipe: 2 1/4 cups of sugar translated into 2 1/4 teaspoons of Liquid Stevia. The Liquid Stevia was used in the recipe in the very same way that sugar would have been.

A few interesting things were noted. One is that the vinegar/stevia/herb mixture was not sticky, as it is with sugar. This meant that none of the herbs stuck to the sides of the pot during the cooking process. The other interesting thing is that Liquid Stevia does not cut the taste of acid the way sugar does, and that came as a surprise. The batch of relish was much tangier than those made with sugar.

All in all, the experiment could be considered a success. The taste is tangier, but that might be pleasant. All five jars sealed.

My other early morning project was to cook chick peas, one batch for hummus tonight, and three batches to be frozen for future hummus. Attila always feels wealthy when he has cooked beans, and chick peas, cooked and ready create his favourite second suppers.

In the early 70s I was teaching food science in the public school system in Toronto. One of the indulgences I gave myself was the purchase of a commercial grade Cuisinart food processor, the DLC-X. Well here I am, over 45 years later, and this appliance is still used three or more times per week. It has seen a lot of use! The appliance was made in Japan, but in the early 80s the company was sold, this appliance went out of production, and the quality of their food processors changed, not for the good. Replacement parts for the DLC-X appliance are no longer made.

A few months ago I noticed it was not working as well as it used to. I found that the plastic bowl, which I had replaced in the 1990s, had a broken piece. I thought that might be the problem, so began to search for a replacement bowl. I didn’t find one, I am still looking.

Then I happened to notice that the grips on the original chopping blade, where it attached to the base of the food processor, had worn away to almost nothing. Aha. I found a new blade, a company in Vancouver had a few of them left, so I ordered it. It was costly, $80, but you cannot buy a new food processor of this quality anywhere in the world, they just are not made anymore, so $80 seemed reasonable to keep the old girl going. And it works like a charm!

But now I am seeking the plastic parts for the DLC-X, wish me luck with that. Each model of the Cuisinart food processors has a unique sized bowl, so the bowls that look a bit the same won’t actually fit. It has to be exact model of bowl to fit the DLC-X. I have scoured the internet, and come up with an obscure, at least to me, company that seems to have some old stock, including the parts I want. It might be a web site that has not been updated. The big issue, if they actually do have the needed parts, is the cost. Well over $300, yikes. But we are considering it. This food processor has been in constant use for over 45 years, and I am sure that if we get new plastic accessories for it, it will serve another 45 years without any issues. And at my age, that means it will last me the rest of my life! Unless of course I become a contender for the book of world records for longevity.

Well, here it is, lunch time! What to have! I think raw diced cucumber and pepper rings, dipped in an onion and roasted pepper dip, would hit the spot!

Worldly

Weather

18°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 25 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 17.8°C
Dew point: 16.8°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: S 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
1850 – 1894

Nowhere more true than in politics.

Squirrels with Nuts

The first day of autumn, yesterday, was warm and sunny, a high of 24C here. Today it is hot and sunny, and humid. Not at all like autumn.

Attila is working on finishing the new storm door, which of course needed a frame built for it. Renovating an old house is full of unusual and interesting adjustments.

Here at Mist Cottage, we are like a couple of squirrels gathering nuts for the winter.

The garden loves this weather, and the harvest continues to be bountiful.

Today Attila harvested:

  • Cherry Tomatoes,
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes,
  • Black Russian Tomatoes,
  • Roma Tomatoes,
  • another variety that I haven’t poked around to see what the seeds said they were,
  • Scarlet Runner beans to eat,
  • Scarlet Runner Beans that had gone to seed for planting next spring
  • two large Zucchini
  • a quart of hot peppers, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Serrano, Habanero
  • a pint of Ground Cherries
  • one English Cucumber
Scraps in the steam juicer, on a hotplate, on the table, on the back porch. Also harvest bowls of Scarlet Runner Beans, Zucchini, Ground Cherries, Tomatoes, Tomatoes.

The tomatoes will go into the basement to finish ripening, then will be made into pizza sauce. The only other produce harvested in a quantity suitable for preservation are the zucchini, and I am thinking about what to do with the zucchini!

We went early to the grocery store to pick up a few supplies this morning. Oh dear, the Red Shepherd Peppers looked amazing, so I had to buy a second half bushel, I had roasted and frozen the first half bushel. Once I got it home I washed all of the peppers in a cold water and vinegar bath, then sliced half of them into strips, which I laid on a tray and placed in the freezer. The tray took up the last few available inches in the freezer!

With no more room in the freezer, I had to find some other way to preserve my peppers. I decided on pressure canning them in water, and after quartering them all, removing seeds and stems, I blanched them for three minutes, and drained and packed them into 500-ml canning jars. To each jar I added boiling water and one tablespoon of vinegar, then pressure canned them at 10 lb. for 35 minutes. I canned six jars of Red Shepherd peppers.

The Pressure Canner at 10 lbs. pressure, in 35 minutes the canned peppers will be done, the burner turned off, and the wait will begin for the gauge to fall back to zero pressure.
Six 500-ml jars of pressure canned Red Shepherd Peppers, all sealed. These will sit undisturbed until tomorrow morning, when I will remove the rings, wash the jars, write the contents and date on the lids, and carry these babies down to the basement to begin their new life on a dark shelf. I’ve not tried canning peppers before, so it will be a learning experience, and I hope we like them!

When we prepare all of this bounty for preservation, or right away for our meals, we save the scraps in one quart bags in the freezer. Today, with all of the red pepper scraps, I decided I had enough to justify a steam juicing session. I added the two quarts of pepper scraps, and six quarts of other vegetable scraps, to the the basket in the steam juicer. I set it up outside on the portable electric burner, where it steamed away for a few hours and produced about a quart of vegetable broth. The remaining scraps were cooled and added to the compost.

All of this food preservation going on, and apple season is just getting going! I will be canning apple pie filling and apple sauce when Northern Spy apples are available.

Yesterday though, we decided to take a break from our squirrelly ways. We took a drive out to the camp to check on things there. Everything looked fine, although we could tell someone had been on the property from the tire tracks they left. I guess they were just having a look, nothing had been interfered with.

I was thrilled that there was no sign of mice in Grace the trailer!!! Nothing in the trap, and no droppings anywhere. Wonderful.

We enjoyed the sunshine, the breezes, and the two deer that wandered by, paying little attention to us. I even saw the biggest millipede I have ever seen in my whole life, it must have been three inches long. Attila and I watched it as it made its way across the campfire area, and carried on into the bush.

Attila cut grass, and used a leaf blower to clear the driveway. He also applied spray foam to a few of the small openings we found on the underside of Grace the trailer. We keep trying to keep those critters out!

I burned brush. Since we were last there quite a few small branches had fallen out of the trees, so I gathered those up, and built a camp fire.

For our lunch, we roasted wieners over the coals, and enjoyed hot dogs on homemade bread, topped with garden tomatoes and Vidalia onions. We stayed until Attila began to feel hungry again, then off we into the sunset, home.

We had such a good time!

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 22 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.2°C
Dew point: 21.4°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: S 15 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
Henry Ford
1863 – 1947



Roasting Peppers

Who knew!

Well I did, really, but still, what a great discovery.

I knew that peppers could be roasted. My friend Joannie is a chef, and I had seen her roasting peppers over a gas burner, decades ago, then it was new information for me. I assumed I needed a gas burner to do it, and never thought about it again, until last week. Last week I bumped into a video that demonstrated roasting peppers in the oven. Well heck, I can do that!

Yesterday I purchased a half bushel of Red Shepherd Peppers, and went to work as soon as I got them home. I decided to roast only two pans of peppers, to see if I could do it, and if I could, to see if we liked them.

We don’t just like them, we LOVE them!

So this morning I am roasting the rest of the peppers. It will take two baking sessions, using four baking sheets. I am placing the peppers on silicone mats on the baking sheets, because the clean up is so very easy.

I got the instructions from a well researched, accountable web site called Healthy Canning. It has good, reliable, safe, tested, information, with specific instructions for roasting peppers here. If you are going to preserve food this is one of the good sites for information. Another is the National Centre for Home Food Preservation, all USDA tested recipes, and USDA recommended techniques. The NCHFP is affiliated with the University of Georgia and the USDA. Canada has very little to offer when it comes to home food preservation information, but the US information is available online, so that is what I follow. I don’t rely on youtube videos for anything but ideas when it comes to home food preservation. I rely on resources that take the consequences of the advice they give as their responsibility. Cooking, well the sky is the limit with creativity there, but not when it comes to food preservation, botulism kills.

I have chosen to freeze the roasted peppers, rather than can them. I freeze them on cookie sheets, on waxed paper, then place wax paper between the frozen peppers and freeze them in heavy plastic bags. It is a time consuming operation, but I anticipate we are going to really enjoy the flavour kick these peppers will provide this winter!

So that is what I do for a good time on a long weekend at the end of the summer. I am also canning a lot. I canned 5 jars of tomato sauce yesterday, and five jars of zucchini relish. The zucchini relish will not last long, as I’ve discovered it gives a real flavour kick to sandwiches, and on meats etc., which is particularly appealing since I don’t use any salt at the table, or in cooking. And I don’t use salty condiments like mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, etc. No no-sodium relish is something I will really appreciate. Today I am also canning more Cherry Bomb Tomatoes, to make two dozen jars for Attila.

Attila is out in the garden. I don’t really know what he is doing out there, but I do know I like it. Every day he brings in bowls of food for me to preserve, and for our dinner. So whatever it is he is spending his time doing out there, it is time well spent. Attila loves his garden. My raised beds get a little bit of attention from him, he waters them for me when he waters the gardens, but all the rest is his playground.

And here we are, the first day of September already. And all of my windows are open. A beautiful day!

Worldly

Weather

20°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 1 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.6°C
Dew point: 13.3°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: SSE 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.”
George Bernard Shaw
1856 – 1950

I think politicians have disproved this.