Fine Wine

The garden just keeps on giving us a little of this, and a little of that. Today a rogue zucchini will provide a lovely stir fry for our lunch. It was ready to be picked days ago, but was missed and just discovered, and is larger than would be ideal. It was delicious.

Attila picked 4 cups of Basil for Pesto, which is already made, spooned into a muffin tin, and is in the freezer. Later today there will be the last of green string beans, the bugs are decimating the plants, so this will be the last harvest from these plants. Two of the Cabbages are ready, so hopefully one of them will be made into Sauerkraut, which I’ve not attempted before, and can’t eat anyway because of the high sodium content, but Attila loves it, and if it turns out, then yay!

The big canning jobs at Mist Cottage are tomatoes and apples. Their season is yet to come. A few of the tomatoes in the garden are light red, not quite there yet, but there are many more to come, barring disaster, weather, rodents, insects, birds, or humans.

It is hot and humid today. I enjoyed the open windows so much yesterday, that I have left them open again today. It is warm in Mist Cottage, but I am staying comfortable by sitting in the breeze of a fan, and wearing my neck scarf cooler. It is a thin cotton bandana type scarf, which is a tube with silica gel in it. It swells with soaking and once adorned, the water in the silica gel slowly evaporates, creating a circle of coolness around my neck. This works very well in keeping my core temperature down, which is really important during a heat wave.

The open windows are allowing the bird song and breeze in, but they also allow in the rat-a-tat-tat of the roofer’s hammers, they are just at the end of the street. Three young men in shorts, work boots, shirtless, are working hard in this heat, and under the relentless sun. I could do things like that in my youth, and did, I have worked to shingle several roofs. Not now though, those days are long gone. Roofers work hard! And I am busy these days doing my fine wine thing… aging.

Worldly

Weather

27°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Saturday 3 August 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 27.3°C
Dew point: 19.0°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: SSW 23 gust 34 km/h
Humidex: 34
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910

This quote leads me to wonder, do animals have a sense of humour? Some say yes, some say know. I could find no scientific studies on the subject, so it is all anecdotal. And how would we humans know, if an animal had a sense of humour?

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds have been a big part of day-to-day life during the winter months, as long as I can remember. Indoor air during the winter is dryer than indoor air during the spring, summer, and fall. My nosebleeds begin as soon as conventional heating methods begin in the fall. At first it was a natural gas furnace, then wood heat, and now fuel oil heat. It isn’t just the constant movement of air, because the air source heat pump delivers heat that has no effect on my nosebleeds at all. I never get nosebleeds when the house is heated with the air source heat pump, which shuts down when the exterior temperature falls below -7C.

Now that I have a Nurse Practitioner, it was possible to get a referral to an ENT. So last week I finally had the problem diagnosed and remedied by cauterization. I had thought it was only the right nostril, but he checked and recommended both nostrils be cauterized. Of course anaesthetic was out of the question, so none was used. To be honest, there was no pain during the procedure, it wasn’t the least bit unpleasant.

However, the 24 hours following the procedure weren’t all that comfortable! Clear fluid flowed from my nostrils in abundance, requiring a tissue to be held to the nose constantly. A feeling of pressure was intense in the nostrils, like cotton balls had been jammed in there. It was very uncomfortable, and there was a mild pain in my nose, radiating to my eyes and upper lip. No pain medications were needed. I could still breathe easily through my nose.

I took it easy for a few days, not lifting anything heavy or bending down. It didn’t keep me awake at night either, slept soundly every night after the procedure.

Now it is just a matter of giving it some time to heal and seeing if I still get nosebleeds.

It has been frigidly cold! The weather is warming up now though, I can tell without looking at a thermometer because the air source heat pump has taken over heating the house, which only occurs above the temperature of -7C.

Now that canning season is over for 2018, focus has shifted to getting the kitchen back to normal. Canning takes up a lot of space, produce everywhere, at different stages of processing, and equipment everywhere. Someday I might have an outdoor kitchen space for canning, I would like that. There is no hurry, no urgency, it is only daydreaming.

I am old enough now that I know, intellectually, that I might not be around long enough to see many more changes around Mist Cottage. However, the rest of me, the part that doesn’t operate by logic alone, enjoys looking forward to possibilities, and really doesn’t get this old age thing at all. I am still me, doing me things, and plan on continuing that way while I am living this life of mine.

Attila is tackling the basement. It is too cold to work on the garage, it is not heated. Most of the basement is as it was in September 2015, when we moved from the Country House to Mist Cottage. Dirty doesn’t really cover the depth of filth in some areas of the basement. Now that some items are removed to the garage, it is possible to move things around and tackle the dirt. That is what Attila is doing. After washing a small surface area down there, the water is pitch black. I continue to spray aqueous oxygen down there where he is working, to kill mold, mildew, and spores. Eventually it will be relatively clean.

Attila’s goal is to get things cleaned up in the basement. He is working on an area beneath the kitchen, for the very first time since we purchased Mist Cottage. The plan is to insulate the rim joists along that wall, which is under the kitchen. The kitchen floor is always extremely cold, colder than any other floor in the house. All the floors are cold of course, because the basement is unheated, but the kitchen floor is much colder than the rest. It is hoped that insulating the rim joists along that wall will help to keep the kitchen floor warmer during the winter months.

I just checked my Crabapple Vinegar project. The alcohol smell is almost gone, and the vinegar is free of mold, so I think it is going well. No signs of a scoby though, but it has to spend weeks on the shelf yet.

Worldly

Weather

-6°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Friday 23 November 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -6.0°C
Dew point: -10.2°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: S 34 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

What I’ve Been Up To

Jar from top showing pickle pebble and foam from fermentation.

Looking at the apple cider from above, lid off. Above the pickle pebble this foam appeared, and overflowed from the jars. A lot of healthy fermenting going on in there!

mason jars at the back of the lowest shelf of a trolley

In the dark! Two 1 litre jars, and one 500 ml jar of crabapples becoming hard apple cider. These needed to be checked every 3 days. The calendar on the computer was setup to sound alerts every three days, so as not to forget. And it is a good thing too, because they bubbled up and through the coffee filters, right onto the floor below the trolley.

Straining the hard apple cider into a large mason jar.

After two weeks sitting in a cool dark place, the hard apple cider was ready to be strained to remove the crabapples. The smell of alcohol was very, very, very strong! Attila and I both had a taste, whoa!

Hard apple cider bubbling in mason jar.

The hard apple cider is still bubbling away in this 1 litre mason jar. It is now being kept in the cool dark place for four to six weeks, as it slowly turns to apple cider vinegar.

Worldly

Weather

9°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Wednesday 7 November 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 9.3°C
Dew point: 2.8°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: SW 44 gust 61 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousand of miles and all the years you have lived.”
Helen Keller
1880 – 1968

Furnace Fixed!

The oil furnace is the auxiliary heat at Mist Cottage, and it wasn’t kicking in when it needed to.

The first thing we thought of was the thermostat, but it seemed to be working as expected.

When the temperature drops 2C below the target temperature, the oil furnace is supposed to come on to bring the interior temperature up to the target. This doesn’t happen very often when the heat pump is heating the house, as it kicks in if the temperature falls by 1C. It is only when the weather throws a quick and extreme temperature drop at us that this whole sequence comes into play.

Attila had some ideas, and started with the simplest, checking all the wiring that was visible. Sure enough, one of the connectors was dislodged! He secured the connector, turned the heat up to 27C (from 21.5C) and bingo, the furnace instantly began to do what it is supposed to do! I turned the thermostat back down as soon as it was a sure thing that everything was working as it should.

Relief!!

This morning Attila looked very stern minutes after he got out of bed. He was pondering and worrying over the furnace issue, as well he might. That worry has now been allayed.

At some point our oil furnace will need to be replaced, but we are in no hurry to do so.  When and if the oil furnace fails, the new furnace will be a natural gas furnace, and when the natural gas supply is connected the electric hot water tank will be replaced with an on-demand hot water heater.  If we are lucky, this won’t ever be necessary.  Dollars to donuts though, at some point the heating system will need updating, even if it is only because the insurance companies refuse to cover a perfectly good oil furnace and tank.  Time to open a savings account for a new heating system, start now and hope for the best.

Worldly

Weather

5°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Saturday 3 November 2018
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 4.8°C
Dew point: 1.7°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: W 36 gust 46 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.”
Izaak Walton
1593 – 1683

Kitchen Magic

I have always loved the kitchen. I love everything about the kitchen, acquiring food to put in it, preserving food, storing food, preparing food, baking, cleaning, organizing, the list goes on. I’ve always been this way, ever since I can remember. My Aunt had a picture of me, at age about five, sweeping the kitchen floor at our farm, and the caption reads, “Mother’s little helper”. That about sums it up, I liked my mother’s kitchen, I liked doing things with and for my mother in the kitchen, it was my favourite room in the house. It was a farm kitchen, and my mother always was a good cook, who liked to cook, and to preserve the produce we had fresh from our farm. I grew up thinking that canning, jam and jelly making, baking, freezing, and all kinds of other kitchen and food related activities, were normal, and fun.

In addition to Mom’s kitchen, the was Granny’s kitchen. That wondrous place where the wood stove represented wonderful meals. There wonderful things happened when we brought home fresh picked wild fruit, choke cherries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and high bush cranberries. My Granny and Grandpa had a magnificent garden, so there was always fresh vegetables during the growing season. My Grandpa loved to fish, as we all did, so there was fresh fish to fry in farm fresh butter. And the highlight of the culinary delights at Granny and Grandpa’s house was the homemade maple syrup, which they made every spring from the trees on their property. Oh the pure joy of a small bowl of maple syrup with homemade bread and fresh butter!  Heavenly.

Kitchens are magic.

It wasn’t surprising that I pursued my first degree in Food and Nutrition. The chemistry (and politics of food) behind the workings of the kitchen opened up another realm of information, and more magic.

*************************************

Has it really been a week since I last posted! Time is flying by. This is not surprising, as it is autumn, and harvest season.

The Instant Pot is still in daily use. I haven’t used the range or the oven for anything but food preservation ever since the Instant Pot came into the house. Last night I made up a new recipe that Attila loved. It was basically a hamburger gravy cooked in the instant pot with fresh green beans from the garden, and a chopped onion. I thickened it after it was cooked, on saute, then served it over small new potatoes. It was lovely. Tonight it will be chicken, although I won’t know what recipe I am going to make until five minutes before I begin meal preparation. A shout out to Teri, thanks for sending me a yahoo link to a great many Instant Pot recipes, I will have fun there.

I put filtered my apple cider this past week, removing the mash from the liquid.  It is now in the final step, which can take many weeks, as the apple cider slowly turns to vinegar.  I have had to remove a wee bit of mold from the top, but from what I read online, this is not something to be concerned about.  The blackberry mash and water are still in the first phase of the process, slowly turning into cider.  I wonder if cider is right word to use with this, blackberry cider.  Hmm.

Since Monday I have canned 14 litres of tomatoes. The tomatoes are from our garden, and were frozen whole as soon as they reached their peak of ripeness. It has been quite a job, thawing them, boiling them down, putting them through the food mill, boiling them down again, then pressure canning them. I love my All American pressure canner! The last five litres are just now cooling on the kitchen counter. Tomorrow I will test their seals, then pack them into the box with the rest of the canned garden tomatoes, and put them into storage in the basement. When I consider that the current price for organic canned tomatoes, in a glass jar, is $8.99 per 680ml, well, we couldn’t afford to eat this quality of food if we hadn’t grown and preserved it ourselves. To buy the equivalent amount of canned organic tomatoes in jars that I canned from our garden, would have cost $185, and generated 20 empty glass jars to be recycled. As it was this year, the garden tomato plants cost less than $10, with free fertilizer from the compost bins. What we saved in dollars was made up for with time, sweat equity. Attila gardened, I canned. Of course, there is the added bonus of the powder I make from the dehydrated skins and seeds from all of these tomatoes, it is very tasty, and I don’t see such a product available in any of the grocery stores I frequent.

Attila renovate and gardens, I administer and preserve food, and in this way we keep our heads above water. Attila is on board with this approach, he has always been on board with this approach, even when he was set on moving out on his own, he was on board with this approach. It isn’t glamorous, newsworthy, unusual, or noteworthy, it is just how we do things, as individuals and as housemates.

mason jar, with coffee filter on top to separate liquid from mash.

Making Apple Cider Vinegar: This is the setup I devised for filtering the apple skins and cores out of the apple cider. First I placed a sterilized wide mouth mason jar on the counter. Then I placed a stainless steel wide-mouthed funnel in the far. Then I placed a coffee filter in the wide-mouthed funnel. Then I place the sterilized jar ring in the coffee filter, to prevent the filter from falling through the funnel. Once this setup was complete, I poured the liquid from my apple cider jar into the coffee filter, so that it passed through the filter and into the mason jar below.

sieve of apple mash draining on coffee filter

Making Apple Cider Vinegar: After pouring as much liquid as possible from the apple cider jar into the mason jar, the mash was placed in a sieve, which in turn was placed on the coffee filter, to allow the remaining liquid to drain from the mash.

bakset of frozen tomatoes

This is half of the frozen tomatoes from our garden.

The frozen tomatoes were place in a 16 quart stock pot over a low heat, to thaw and simmer.

Stock pot containing tomato sauce, with reflection of Maggie's legs.

The tomatoes were simmered in the stockpot, put through the food mill, then returned to the stock pot to simmer. And here you have, as a little extra bonus, a stealth picture of me taking the picture. Mrs. Tomato Head.

canning jars in a pressure canner

And here are the jars of canned tomatoes, ready and waiting to be canned in the pressure canner, then onto the counter, where they will cool for 24 hours, before testing the seals and storing them away.

groceries with total cost of 95 cents, includes 3 frozen turkeys, socks, green peppers, red peppers cilantro and two packages of English Muffins.

Another little bonus shot. Attila watches points when we shop. He loves numbers, and his passion for numbers is put to good use with points. This was our grocery haul this week, total cost, cashing in points, 95 cents.

Worldly

Weather

16°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Thursday 27 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 15.5°C
Dew point: 8.9°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

OK, here is the thing! When I went to bed last night the temperature in the house was 22C. The heat is not turned on. Last night I forgot to close the windows, and the temperature outside went down to 10C overnight. Yikes!

And you know what? When I woke up this morning, the temperature in the house was still 21C! It only went down 1C degree! The attic insulation is doing an amazing job. Who knew! Well, I sorta knew, but I didn’t realize it would be this good.

Quote

“A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.”
Daniel Webster
1782 – 1852