Rhubarb Juice

Friday, May 17, 2019

The day dawned sunny, but still a bit chilly, just under 16C. Not lounging weather to be sure, but good working weather. As the day progressed the clouds became more numerous, and there is no rain expected for a few days. We have had a lot of rain this spring, and here at Mist Cottage the flora and fauna are burgeoning with life.

This morning I watched a Blue Jay flitting about the yard, from the Ash tree, to the lawn, and up again. Sitting on the fence, watching him closely, was a Cardinal. Sitting in the Ssh tree, watching him closely, were two Robins. Sitting on the fence at the far side of the yard, watching him closely, were two Chickadees. The Blue Jay has been an unwelcome marauder in our yard, the other birds are frequently going after it and chasing it away. I have seen some bird’s egg shells on the ground, so he must be after their nests.

This morning I explored possibilities for our felled Ash logs. I think I might have found some people who will use the wood, not burn it for fuel, but use it to make things. I am still waiting to hear back from them, fingers crossed.

Yesterday Attila picked some Rhubarb from our largest plant. It was ready for harvesting, now that it is well established. I cleaned it and weighted it, less than pound. So out I went to the garden and picked some more. I ended up with 1.77 pounds of fresh rhubarb, when washed and diced. So here is what I did:

Step One:
Place 5 quarts of water and a marble (it will rattle if the water gets too low, time to add more!) in the Stock Pot of the Victorio Steam Juicer. Place the Juice Kettle on top of that, insert the hose into the spigot, and clamp the hose. Place the Colander with the 1.77 lbs. of diced rhubarb in it, on top of that. Finally place the lid on top of that.

Step Two:
Turn the burner on under the steam juicer, as soon as it reaches a rolling boil turn it down until it maintains a slow boil.

Step Three:
Wait. Enjoy the heavenly aroma that filled the house.
I waited 1 1/2 hours. Then I turned off the heat and let the unit cool.

Step Four:
If I had had enough juice in the Juice Kettle to reach the drain hose, I would have drained the juice that way. But there wasn’t much juice, relative to the size of the Juice Kettle, so I carefully removed the lid, then the Colander, and poured the juice into a measuring cup, from the opposite size of the Colander from the spigot.

Step Five:
Be impressed. It made 1/8 cup less than 4 cups of juice.

Ah, now, what to do with the juice-less fruit, and the juice! Fruit leather with the fruit I think, and Rhubeena with the juice. Rhubeena is like Ribena, only it is made with Rhubarb. All the recipes I found for it cooked the Rhubarb with water and sugar, then strained it, to make the Rhubeena. I used the Steam Juicer to make the juice, without sugar, and will later add the sugar, 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of juice, and bring it to a boil, then steam can one 500 ml jar, and store what is left in another jar for the refrigerator and immediate consumption.

Rhubarb! Rhubarb leather on the plate, this was like candy! All gone now. The two jars of Rhubarb Juice were canned for long term storage, and the open jar is being kept in the refrigerator for immediate consumption. The Victorio Steam Canner makes canning two jars of juice easy peasy. The Victorio equipment is top notch, pricey, but high quality, and should last a lifetime, which at my age I guess it isn’t saying much, so I’ll say it should last several lifetimes. We are finding that our food preservation equipment has already paid for itself, when our preserved food is compared to the prices for organic canned foods. And of course, there is the variety we enjoy that cannot be had at any price, no Organic Rhubarb Juice on the shelves, or Organic Dandelion Jelly. Another added benefit to all this gardening and preserving of food is that we generate a lot less packaging waste. And another added benefit is that our food has no preservatives in it, and we know exactly what has gone into the jars,.

It has taken me some time to find time to try out a Steam Juicer. I am not disappointed! This Juicer makes making juice a breeze.

Next in the Steam Juicer, vegetable broth from frozen vegetable scraps we have been saving in the freezer!

Wednesday May 22, 2019

Things have been busy!

After making the Dandelion Jelly, it was decided that more was needed. So I spent many hours Saturday, sitting in the sunshine, plucking petals. The result was enough Dandelion “tea” for two more batches of jelly, which were frozen for future jelly making. But that didn’t seem like enough, so Monday saw me on the back porch once more, plucking more petals, enough for one more batch of jelly. That should do it! We plan on using the jelly as a bit of a medicinal, a teaspoon a day each, a small and simple little treat that is good for us.

Attila was busy with the construction of the Hugelkultur bed, it is a lot of work to set up. He also set up the rain barrel that we purchased several years ago, at last.

His big project though, over the last four or five days, has been to get the garden turned and planted. Tomatoes! Thirty-six Roma Tomato plants were planted in rows, and four plants of Cherry Tomatoes. The hope is that the garden will provide enough canned tomatoes and Tomato Red Pepper Sauce to from this gardening season to the next. Only time will tell if this plan succeeds. I planted Green Bell Peppers and Red Shepherd Peppers in my raised bed, in among the strawberry runners, and if they grow and yield well, they will provide the peppers needed for the sauce.

The first little plants from the cold frame, Radishes, were transplanted into the garden. Oregano was moved to a new location in the garden. Two small Black Currant bushes were transplanted to the back of the garden. And I think Attila did a whole lot of other little rearrangements in his garden, that I didn’t really notice, being busy with my own little projects.

Attila was very busy in the flower garden as well. Gladiola were planted close to the house and along the fence, and the echinacea were moved to the same location to make room for the Cherry Tomatoes, which were planted near one of the compost bins. Along the fence, between two of the compost bins, the Scarlet Runner beans were put in.

At some point, during all this activity, we found time to head out the Camp for a few hours. I wanted to see if there were any Army Worms developing on our trees there. We were only there a few hours, and got a lot accomplished. Attila cut the grass, and I worked on getting Grace the Trailer up and functioning for the season. The propane range was used for the first time this year, heating up Taco Soup, which I served with cheese and crackers. We decided not to have a fire, as it was a whirlwind visit and we would be very busy while there. I mixed up a batch of detergent/water/bleach and sprayed the army worm nest I found in one of the trees. Their season has begun, and we are hoping to stay on top of it this year. The season for black flies has also begun, they aren’t swarming yet, but they are biting.

My raised beds are looking great so far. My Spinach, Beets, and Peas are all just coming up, and soon I will be able to discern which are weeds and which are my plants (straight rows), so that I can weed the bed. The chicken wire over the bed has been successful in keeping the squirrels from digging up my seeds, or burying things in the soil and disturbing the seedlings.

The strawberries, in the other raised bed, are growing vigorously, and in a few weeks the runners will be ready to transplant into another bed, whic will not be a raised bed. We are going to use some of the logs from the felled Ash tree as a Strawberry bed border. The transplants will not bear fruit this summer, but hopefully next summer we will have a crop!

Now I am waiting for the Lilacs to bloom, and if there are enough blooms on the property, I will be making Lilac Jelly. I am hoping that the Nasturtiums Attila planted will proliferate and bloom well, because I would love to try Nasturtium Jam, I think the peppery flavour would have a real kick! Oh, and yes, Strawberry season should be coming up in a few weeks, and I am really looking forward to that.

And I am happy to record that on Saturday the weather was so warm that the temperature on the back porch reached 30C. It was too warm for me, sitting in the full afternoon sun, so I had to retreat indoors. But it did inspire me to drag out the “cabana curtains” from winter storage, which are really white bed sheets, and hang them on the rods across the back porch. And of course, since I did that, Monday was cloudy and dull, and they were not needed. But now they sit at the ready!

Worldly

Weather

16°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Friday 17 May 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 16.4°C
Dew point: 11.9°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: W 16 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

9°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 22 May 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 8.5°C
Dew point: 5.9°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: N 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I like manual labor. Whenever I’ve got waterlogged with study, I’ve taken a spell of it and found it spiritually invigorating.”
W. Somerset Maugham
1874 – 1965

I found a balance, when I worked as a manual labourer on a farm, picking fruit. I would read a book at night, and think about what I had read all through the next day, whiles my hands reached, plucked, and placed the sweet aromatic fruits, as I stood high on a rickety ladder held up against a swaying branch. Aerial literature.

Little Things, Lotsa Little Things

Well, my last post took on a life of its own! I sat down to write about the little things, and the meaning of the little things overwhelmed me. So I am writing this post about the little things.

Last Friday last was one of Attila and my Anniversaries. It was the 25th Anniversary of the day he and I became a we. He surprised me when he decided he wanted to take the day as a vacation, to celebrate the occasion. Things have changed considerably over the last year and a half, between Attila and I, and thankfully life seems to be balancing out. We both thought about what we might like to do. There were no events or entertainment types of things in the area that interest either of us, so we thought about spending time at a park. But it was cold and raining, not a good day to spend out of doors. Soooo…. we went to Costco.

Costco

Costco is a store we do not frequent. Attila calls it the $500 dollar store, as we have spent that much there on the odd occasion, and we always spend far more there than we do at any other retail outlet, except for home renovation projects.

It was extremely crowded at Costco. We managed to find unpopular aisles to walk slowly and quietly through, to rest after navigating the hustle and bustle through the busier aisles. We did not purchase much, mostly fresh produce, and bulk items that are less expensive there than at other places we shop. We had fun. We bought a huge strawberry plant in a hanging basket that was on sale. We were glad to get home!

Our evening was enjoyable, watching a Netflix program and enjoying homemade pizza. We love our homemade pizza, and Attila feels it is the best pizza he has ever had in his life. Thank goodness I finally conquered 100% whole wheat bread dough, it makes an excellent pizza crust. We use my home canned Red Pepper Sauce, and lactose free cheese, lower sodium pepperoni, and a variety of vegetables, such as onions, peppers, and mushrooms.

Cold Frame, Raised Beds, and Dandelions

Saturday was bright and sunny, in the morning. Attila was very, very happy to finally have time to start building his cold frame. All of the wood was salvaged from the original shed that we demolished, and the wood Attila purchased at significant discount when he worked in the lumber industry. The lid was made from one pane of the dining room window that was in place when we bought the house.

This is the cold frame Attila built from reclaimed lumber and a pane of glass from our old dining room window. You can see he isn’t finished planting and adding all of his little seed pots, he has used egg cartons for planting some of the seeds.

I had several projects on the go. One was to plant my raised beds. Attila built them out of reclaimed boards from the original shed on the property, and pine boards he purchased during his years in the lumber industry. They are mine, I was going to use two large totes with holes drilled into the bottom, but Attila wanted to build them, so there they are. I insisted that a sheet of hardware cloth be attached to the bottom of each, to keep out voles and moles and other animals. He will build a third for himself, and he is the gardener in residence for the larger garden outside the fenced area, which he is increasing in size this year.

My raised beds are a sort of Hugelkultur setup, as we filled the bottom half with logs, pruned branches, leaves, and twigs. This was stomped down thoroughly, then watered thoroughly. Then our own compost formed a deep layer over the brush layer, and finally some topsoil was placed on top of the compost. I find it easy on my knees to care for such a garden bed, and easy on my back as well. After a quick trip Canadian Tire, to pick up a meat thermometer to measure the temperature of the soil, it was determined that the soil in the raised beds was warm enough for planting seeds.

The strawberry plant that we purchased had a dozen or more runners hanging down from the plant. After hanging it up under the porch, it was quickly observed that the runners would be destroyed by the wind. What to do. Attila suggested setting the hanging basket in the raised garden bed. This gave me an “aha moment”, when I remembered all those hours in the fields on our farm, setting strawberry runners. So the basket went into the centre of the raised bed, and I set the runners all around the basket in the soil of the raised bed. When the runners root, they will be cut from the plant, and then the hanging basket will be hung once more under the porch.

This is the hanging Strawberry plant we purchased at Costco. The runners were copious and long, so I set the runners in my raised bed garden. I’ll cut them as soon as they root, then hang the planter on the back porch.

That was one of my raised beds planted. On to the other raised bed. I planted three different plants, one row of each: snap peas, beets, and spinach. I love snap peas and spinach, and will eat beets. But really, what I want from the beets is the beet greens, we love beet greens! We have squirrel varmints here, and they dig up our gardens. I didn’t want them digging up my newly planted seeds, so off I went, back to the building centre, to pick up some chicken wire. Attila cut it for me and placed a sheet over the raised bed containing my peas, beets, and spinach. The strawberries are not as prone to squirrel damage, so that bed was not covered. It will be eventually be covered by a chicken wire hoop, when the strawberries are close to ripening, to protect the fruit from squirrels and birds.

This is my other raised bed, where I have planted three rows, one each of sugar peas, beets, and spinach. The chicken wire is there to prevent the squirrels from digging up all the seeds!

The other project I started on Saturday was a batch of Dandelion Jelly. I’d read about it quite a bit online, but had not ever tried it myself. Since our yard has had no chemical treatments of any kind since 2010, I felt quite confident that our crop of Dandelions were organic, and quite safe for consumption. I spent part of my day in the sun, picking big yellow Dandelion blossoms. Then I spent another part of my day, and this was time consuming, removed the petals from the Dandelions I had picked. It is important not to allow any of the green parts of the plant into the petal bowl, greens are bitter. It was laborious work, rolling the receptacle of each blossom between thumb and forefinger, to loosen the petals, then remove them carefully to place them in a bowl. In that way I plucked three cups of petals.

I used the recipe from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and a few other recipes consulted for ideas. I placed the three cups of blossoms in four cups of boiling water and simmered them for 10 minutes. Then I strained the liquid through a coffee filter and refrigerated it to be dealt with on the morrow. The liquid was a dark brown, with a mild “greeny” taste to it. I wasn’t optimistic, but I was determined to see it through.

Attila worked all day Saturday on his cold frame, finishing it just before dark. He had been stressing about getting to this project, and his relief at having it ready was evident.

Tank, Peat Pots, and Jelly

Had Sunday dawned sunny and warm, we would have headed out to the Camp. But it was just the opposite, chilly and clouded over. So we decided to stay home and work on projects here at Mist Cottage.

The first project of the day was a joint one. We had purchased a code reader to read the OBD codes for Tank. It was a BAXF wifi unit, and after I purchased the necessary software to use it, we watched a video on how to get it working. It took some time and experimentation, but we finally got it going with the iPad, and discovered that two cylinders in the engine are still misfiring, after $5000 worth of work… those garages won’t be getting my business again any time soon. So we are researching to try and figure out just what is going on with Tank. There were no other issues detected!

Attila spent a very happy day, planting peat pots and trays of seeds, and arranging them in his newly built cold frame. He didn’t even stop to eat lunch, he was having such a great time.

I spent the rest of my day in the kitchen. It was time to make Dandelion Jelly. Jams and jellies are easy things to make and can. I brought up my jars, lids, rings, canning accessories, and steam canner from the basement, then set to work. After adding the sugar, the dark liquid was transformed, and it smelled amazing, quite a bit like honey, but not exactly the same. The batch made three 500 ml jars, and they all sealed.

Dandelion Jelly: It was a lot of work pulling the petals off each Dandelion bloom, to make 3 cups of petals! I wasn’t sure it would be worth all that trouble. Having tasted this jelly, I think that yes, it is well worth the effort!
You can see the jelly is not clear, that is not the way it should be. I’ll be troubleshooting the next batch, based on my notes here. I think the problem was that I added lemon juice to the petal liquid, and afterward noticed that the commercial pectin contains citric acid, which means I used double the needed acid in the recipe, which I think caused small globules of over-jelled jelly that cloud the resulting product.
This Jelly will be enjoyed, the cloudiness does not affect the taste or texture.

The jelly was not clear, as it should have been. I think the problem was with the pectin which I purchased in powder form. I hadn’t used commercial pectin in, well, decades, and assumed it was the same product I had always used. It is not. This pectin includes citric acid, and upon inspecting the recipes that came with it, none of them called for lemon juice. I had added lemon juice to my recipe, as was traditionally done, but apparently that step is now removed with this commercial pectin, as the citric acid serves the same purpose. So, my recipe had far too much acid in it, and it jelled more quickly and intensely than I would have expected. I think that the cloudiness is actually small globules of very thick jelly. Unless they crystallize, it won’t be a problem. So, I learned something new yesterday, about modern commercial pectin.

Dandelion Jelly is delicious! It does have a taste reminiscent of honey. I think it is worth the time and effort, and will make it again when this supply runs out.

I think we have reached a point where all jams and jellies at our house will be made from plants that grow on our own property: crab apple and dandelion.

I cooked a pork roast in the Instant Pot, and Attila roasted potato wedges in the oven, which made for a wonderful evening meal, along with mixed vegetables.

Monday was a day of catching up with domestic things, cleaning, laundry, those little things that make home feel more comfortable.

A New Project On Our Plat

Tuesday brought some excitement! It all began as I was minding my own business, seated in the bathroom. Suddenly there was a very loud noise, very close to the bathroom window. At first I was alarmed. Then I figured out what it was. The sound was a chain saw, and the utility company must be out there taking down the large dead ash tree in the front yard. It only took them about an hour to limb the tree, bring down the trunk, and section it into short logs.

We knew we would have this project on our plate sooner or later. It is a big job, and will take most of the long weekend coming up to get it sorted properly. It is our intention to keep all of the material on our property, building hugelkultur beds, and the logs, well, we haven quite figured out what to do with the logs yet. Ash is a beautiful wood, and the logs are in great condition. I looked into having the logs milled, but the expense of that was beyond our means. It would have been nice though.

The Ash tree came down Tuesday morning! These two fellows were methodical and very efficient. They knew what they were doing. As I had requested, they left no debris at all on the neighbour’s lawn, he wouldn’t like that at all. As you can see there was quite a pile of branches left to deal with, and the logs, my they are big, you can get an idea of the diameter by looking at the trunk next to the fellow working on the ground. Not even his very large chain saw would section a piece in one go. Since Tuesday, I have sectioned and removed the branches in front of the man on the ground, and to his left. Tonight Attila is working on sectioning the pile of branches underneath the man in the basket.

We worked until dark last night, using loppers to break down the small mountain of branches. Attila toted a pile of the small bits of branches to the back yard, and placed them beside the location of the third, and yet to be built, raised bed. They will make a wonderful hugelkultur base for that garden bed.

After some discussion, we decided to use a lot of the branches to create a long hugelkultur bed outside the fenced area of the yard, beside the bigger garden. Attila dug a concave hole and began filling it with sectioned branches. We only managed to deal with about a third of the branches.

This morning I took the loppers out and tackled breaking down more of the branches. I kept at it until I had worked up quite a sweat, then broke for lunch. After lunch I relaxed for about an hour, then headed back out with my loppers. After a few hours I was soaking wet from all my hard work, and had managed to break down all the branches in one of the larger piles. Then I decided that it was enough for one day. This old body will rebel if I overdo things. So far I have been feeling fine, no stiffness this morning, or this afternoon. I did take Ibuprofen last night though, a while before bedtime, just to make sure that no inflammation took hold of me.

If we had paid a company to take down the tree, they would have removed all the branches and logs and left the lawn neat and tidy. But they also would have removed around $1000 from our savings account. It was such good fortune that the tree was taken down by the utility company, what we saved in money we are paying for with sweat. Sweat we have! Money we don’t. It worked out very well.

The weather has been chilly, and wet. We stop working outside when it rains, and work hard when it stops. Chilly is good, when you are doing hard labour. I even found myself wanting to take off my shirt, I had worked up quite a sweat, but of course, I did no such thing.

So that’s us, busy with the little stuff, happy as clams really.

Worldly

Weather

9°C
Date: 7:13 PM EDT Wednesday 15 May 2019
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 8.8°C
Dew point: 7.6°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: NE 3 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Theodore Roosevelt
1858 – 1919

The Loot

This morning I tallied up the numbers for the canning projects undertaken since the first of September 2018, my loot. I’ve canned 141 jars of produce, 70 of which were 500 ml jars, the rest were 1 litre jars. I had to keep buying more jars!

Here is my breakdown:
green tomato mincemeat 6 500 ml
crabapple jelly 10 500 ml
apple scrap jelly 1 500 ml
apples diced 11 500 ml
tomato pepper sauce 44 500 ml
applesauce spy 12 1 litre
applesauce paula red 12 1 litre
tomatoes roma vinegar 12 1 litre
tomatoes roma lemon juice 12 1 litre
tomatoes garden citric 12 1 litre
strawberry rhubarb 2 1 litre
beef broth 7 1 litre

I don’t think anything has been forgotten, but even if it has, the shelves will slowly empty over the course of the winter, all the jars will be found, and all the contents will be eaten.

Of all the things I’ve canned this fall, my favourite is the Crabapple Jelly, it fills my mouth with the taste of summers past, industry, and the people in my life sharing things they love. It is just a bonus that these little apples were gathered from our own back yard here at Mist Cottage.

Our yard is in the process of being torn up, once again. First it was the broken water main, they dug up quite a bit of the front lawn to fix that and the soil they returned to the lawn was hard clay and pebbles, they did not do well by us. The next disruption was installing a ditch across the front of the property, right down the street, reducing our driveway by half, cutting off access to our property along the road, and draining the water from the street down into our driveway, geniuses of engineering. Now they are installing fibre optics for the new subdivision, so the neighbours are saying. So far they have only dug a deep hole in front of our Juniper tree. I am hopeful that it will survive, and that this is the only disruption to our yard. The noise is intense, but that is temporary.

The rural feel we have enjoyed at Mist Cottage is gone. Everywhere we look there are subdivisions and houses, roads and service poles. I guess that is to be expected if you buy property near environmentally protected wetland owned by a developer. It is conceivable that at some point a tall fence will surround our back yard, protecting it from the visual chaos of development. On the other hand, we might just grown accustomed to it, or newly planted trees and shrubs might effectively break the harshness of this manmade jungle.

Worldly

Weather

-3°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Friday 16 November 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -3.0°C
Dew point: -4.2°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: NE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 10 km

Quote

“A book burrows into your life in a very profound way because the experience of reading is not passive.”
Erica Jong

I love my books.

Gales of November

It is blustery, wet, and cold out there today. And the weather people predict snow this afternoon.

The yard has been “winterized”. The Scarlet Runner Bean plants have been torn out and removed to the compost, as have all the garden plants except the rosemary, oregano, thyme, and my Granny’s Rose, which Attila has mulched to protect it from frost damage. It grew luxuriously for Granny, but in her yard it was covered all winter by deep snow, and we don’t get deep snow here, not like that. So mulch should help it weather the winter.

On Sunday Attila cut the grass in the yard, using the clippings to top up the compost bins. Now that the garage roof is almost done, he has time and psychic freedom to concentrate on his real love, gardening. All compostables are now precious, no yard waste will be going to the curb in future. The tree branches that come down in the wind, or are cut when he is pruning the trees, are stored in a pile in the back yard, ready for use in the spring.

Next spring I want to construct a raised bed inside the fenced area, a garden bed that is mine to create, plant, attend, and harvest. Attila will make most of the decisions and do most of the work for the rest of the property, but the raised bed will be mine. The tree branches will be cut up and used as a base for the raised bed, a sort of Hugelkultur base. I will purchase some soil, but not much will be needed, the raised bed will be topped with our own composted soil, and a mulch. The bed will be high enough that I will not need to tax my arthritic knee and back to work on it. I look forward to the spring!

When I started canning on Labour Day weekend, the first week of September, I had thought it would be a short-lived little adventure.

Ha! Ha! Ha!

The canning projects continue unabated, although at a slower pace. The past weekend it was bone broth, which was pressure canned yesterday. The grass-fed, no hormone, beef bones were a bonus. In 2013 we purchased a quarter of beef from Terra’s neighbour, as did Terra and Lares. We were asked if we wanted the bones. Of course! Those bones were kept in the freezer and made into beef broth in 2016. But there was a second bag of bones to be had, Terra and Lares did not want theirs, so we took them and they sat in the freezer until last Saturday, food that would have gone to waste otherwise. Now 7 one-litre jars of bone broth are lined up on the counter like little soldiers, all sealed, ready to be labelled tomorrow and then stored in the basement. Attila will be enjoying some very nice soups this winter based on this broth!

jars of canned beef bone broth

Seven litres of Beef Bone Broth, all sealed and ready for winter soups.

There is still fresh produce to consider for canning. Two boxes of garden tomatoes are ripening in boxes in the basement, and two bags of whole ripe garden tomatoes are waiting in the freezer for my attention. There is a ripe pumpkin and three large Hubbard Squash waiting for attention as well. All of this should be processed by Christmas!

One strong interest that Attila and I share is food. My first degree is in Food and Nutrition, and I’ve always taken a keen interest in nutritious cooking, and in food preservation. My fondest memories of childhood are helping my Granny cook on the wood stove, harvesting wild fruits with my Granny and Grandpa,and the joy of my Mom’s Strawberry Jam. Attila similarly has wonderful memories centred around his Grandparents and food, and his Mom allowed him access to the kitchen when he was a kid, so he could pursue his interest in food.

In adult life Attila is always hungry, eating at least two full dinners every evening, and a bedtime snack as well. Food is always on his mind. In adult life I have anaphylaxis, which requires that I analyze every single piece of food or beverage that I put in my mouth. Food is always on my mind. And then there is frugality, and food quality. Our income this year just reached the official poverty line, for the first time since 2004, when we experienced one single solitary year with an income above the poverty line, so our resources don’t allow much leeway for eating out, or buying prepackaged foods. We don’t turn up our noses at free food, or food that others reject because it requires work and attention to render it delicious. We find that home cooking, using what we have when we have it, provides us with a not only healthy diet, but a varied and delicious one as well.

Wow! A huge grey squirrel just leapt from the Crabapple tree in the front yard onto the roof above the front door, and must have almost fallen off the evestrough. What a racket! It sounded like someone was trying to take out the roof. I will have to go out there and check for damage. The squirrels have been behaving desperately this past spring, summer and now fall. I think it has something to do with the natural wetland being razed for the new subdivision. The local supply of food and shelter has been extremely and suddenly reduced, so competition must be fierce for survival for them. They sure have been behaving badly around our place this summer season!

I continue to observe YouTube videos. This week I am watching hand gestures. There is a particular set of hand gestures that the content producers that I am watching are using, it seems they are all mimicking each other, or maybe it started with one successful content creator, and spread in the race for success and dollars. I think that as soon as the $$$ dry up for content creators you won’t see new videos for dust. It isn’t sharing, it is a business venture for many of them, most of them really, but nothing lasts forever and the income generated is diminishing over time. In the meantime I am watching the videos that interest me, mostly centred on food preservation methods, and home renovations.

Well, that is enough writing for now, time to get going on the kitchen duties, and check out what that dastardly big little squirrel got him or herself up to on the evestrough!

Worldly

Weather

1°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Tuesday 13 November 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.2°C
Dew point: 1.2°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: N 2 km/h
Visibility: 13 km

Quote

“I despise the pleasure of pleasing people that I despise.”
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
1689 – 1762

Oh the small and twisted lives of the elite. Pretty from the outside…

Thank Goodness

Remembrance Day today. My family was lucky. My Grandpa fought in the first world war, and came home safe and sound, and so I am here with my fingers moving across the keyboard, due to sheer good luck. It is a day to remember those who did not come back, and their descendants that did not come to exist.

A typical weekend here, and thank goodness there is a typical weekend!

Yesterday the second bag of beef bones dragged up from the bottom of the old chest freezer. It was from the organic, grass-fed, half quarter of beef that we purchased from Terra’s neighbour, back in October of 2013. Yikes, that is five years ago!

The day was cold and windy, so the Nesco portable oven was placed indoors, in the kitchen, to do its magic with the bones. The heat from the Nesco helped to heat the house, instead of the freezing winds on the porch. This is quite the opposite of summer us of the Nesco, when it is used on the back porch, to avoid heating up the house. The biggest disadvantage to having waited until the weather turned cold to make bone broth, is that it will have to be done indoors, and the aroma is not pleasing, not in the least. Onward though, time to make bone broth, and continue making use of the vintage foods in the freezers.

To the bones in the Nesco were added: 2 onions, skins on and halved; 2 carrots peeled and sectioned; 1 stalks of celery, chopped into sections; 1 teaspoon of peppercorns; 2 medium bay leaves; 1/4 cup vinegar; filtered water to within 1 inch of the top of the pan. The temperature was set to 350F for two hours, then turned down to 225F until the following morning, Sunday morning, this morning.

This afternoon the Nesco was turned off, and tongs were used to remove the bones from the broth. The broth was poured through a sieve into the 16 quart stock pot, and the pot was covered and set out on the back porch to cool completely. The temperature is hovering around freezing, so as the broth cooled the beef fat hardened into a thick brittle crust, which was easily removed. The fat was discarded, as were the bones and vegetables from the broth. At this point I do not have a method of using the fat or the bones, just the broth.

Tomorrow the broth will be reheated, then canned in the pressure canner. This winter it will form a base for soups.

The dinner menu contributed to the depletion-of-vintage-food project. Taco soup in the Instant Pot called for a jar of tomatoes, so the last frozen mason jar of tomatoes from 2016 were thawed and into the soup they went. Those tomatoes were the rejects from Terra and Lares garden that year, they had a bumper crop and were just going to leave the split tomatoes on the vines to rot. With their permission we grabbed them, stewed them, and froze them in mason jars. Found food is so much fun!

To serve with the soup, a new recipe for biscuits will be followed. The last batch were less than stellar, so back to the drawing board.

While I am busy with all this activity in the kitchen, Attila is working on the garage roof, the last phase of his project. The blocks between the roof rafters are being custom cut and nailed in. He worked on this yesterday and is working on it again today.

There is a lot of activity outside on the street lately as well. Flags to mark Bell (telephone) yellow, Gas green, and Water blue, have popped up all along the street, with spray-painted colour-matched lines across the front of the yard. There is one other line painted onto our property, of unknown definition, and it is coloured green.

When I was talking to one of our neighbours, she said that she heard, I know, reliable information right, that fiber-optic lines were going to be installed for the new subdivision. Our yard will be torn up for the third time since we bought Mist Cottage eight years ago. This time I am worried they will kill the trees close to the edge of the property, by cutting the tree roots as they dig their trenches. The trees were planted too close to the property line! I have my fingers crossed that the trees survive, I would sorely miss them!

Worldly

Weather

2°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Sunday 11 November 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.3°C
Dew point: -6.5°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: WNW 19 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Men have become the tools of their tools.”
David Thoreau
1817 – 1862

I wonder if it is possible for a truth to become more true!