Happy Thanksgiving! (Canada)

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!

The egg shells saved from Friday morning’s bread baking project. The inner membranes have been removed and placed in the compost. These will take several days to thoroughly dry, then the mortar and pestle will be used to pulverize them for use in the garden, as a soil amendment.
My bread baking day begins with milling organic whole grain flour. The jar on the left is four liters of whole grain organic flour, and the jar on the right is five liters of flour.
I make five loaves of bread at a time. I use the Bosch Universal Plus mixer to knead the bread, as my hands and wrists are not up to the job. I used to knead my bread by hand, but that was the luxury of youth. This mixer was purchased when we lived in the Country House, and is a great mixer.
I have tried very hard to eyeball the even division of my bread dough, and my loaves were always very different in size. So now I use this scale to weigh the sections of dough, so that they are roughly the same weight. After dividing the dough, I knead and shape each loaf.
Here the shaped loaves are in the pans, ready for the second rise. Forty or so years ago I purchased the four stainless steel loaf pans. With only four pans, my fifth loaf had to be baked on a cookie sheet, and the shape was not ideal for sandwiches. A few weeks ago Attila and I went shopping in a nearby city, and visited several charity shops. At Value Village I found a Pyrex loaf pan. They wanted $5.49 for it, and with tax it was around $6.00. It was old and dirty. I snapped it up. Why would I do that when a new Pyrex loaf pan could be had for very little more? The new Pyrex glass is Soda Lime glass, whereas the vintage Pyrex is Borosilicate glass, which is less prone to shattering. When I got my new loaf pan home I cleaned it up, and it looks like new.
The loaves are in the oven for their second rise, which takes about 30 minutes. I turn the oven light on about an hour before the bread goes in, so that the oven is slightly warm.
Ah, five loaves of bread! When I remove them from the oven I let them sit for 5 minutes before turning the bread out of the pans, so they always slide out easily onto the racks.
The bread cools on the racks, and when cool will be placed in bread bags, sealed, and placed in the chest freezer. For the moment I am using bread bags saved from purchased loaves of bread, we wash them, hang them out to dry on the back porch clothesline, and reuse them until the ink becomes sticky and yucky, then we put them out for recycling. Start to finish, including the time needed to mill the whole wheat flour, it took me four and half hours to bake the bread. Since I started before 6:30 a.m., I was able to complete the project while the hydro was at mid-peak prices, and had everything shut off by the time the price doubled!
The first harvest of Brussels Sprouts. Two plants were harvested, and they yielded 1 1/2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts, and one quart of leaves and stems for fermenting.
And finally more tomatoes! This morning 8 pounds of green tomatoes were harvested from the garden, mostly Cherry, Roma, and Beefsteak. There were about 12 pounds of green tomatoes already ripening in the basement, so there are 20 pounds of harvested green tomatoes pending processing.
In the garden there are still about 20 pounds of green tomatoes that still might ripen if the frost holds back.

Worldly

Weather

11°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Monday 14 October 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 11.3°C
Dew point: 2.5°C
Humidity: 54%
Wind: SW 23 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”
Frank Herbert
1920 – 1986

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

First Frost!

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.

Worldly

Weather

Mainly Sunny
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Saturday 5 October 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 103.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 5.2°C
Dew point: 4.0°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: NE 11 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“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.

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 –

A Lasting Gift

Today I had the pleasure of browsing through my bookcase, and a special book caught my eye. It was a gift.

One of the significant contexts of my life was Graduate School. I met some truly wonderful people during those years. One of them was Jeremy. He was funny, smart, kind, and a kid compared to me. I was much older than all of the other graduate students in the department, at that time. He had grown up in England, his father an Anglican priest, his mother a woman of colour born in Jamaica.

Jeremy’s graduate research took him to Jamaica, the birth place of his mother. He used to send me postcards from Jamaica, I still have a few of them. One year, when we resumed classes, he brought back a book for me, called Lionheart Gal: Life Stories of Jamaican Women, by Sistren with Honor Ford Smith (1987). I treasured the book, it was meaningful to Jeremy, a connection with his Mother, who was a Jamaican woman by birth.

A year or so ago I was chatting with an old friend from that period of my life, catching up on the news. It was then I discovered that Jeremy had passed away. What sad news that was. Apparently he had contracted a serious but curable disease, I can’t remember which one, but decided to self-treat with herbal remedies. They didn’t work, and he lost his life.

But when I hold this book in my hand, I do not think about how Jeremy left us, I think about how wonderful it was to have known him, enjoyed his humour, his company, and a wee bit of his heart.

Worldly

Weather

17°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Thursday 26 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 17.3°C
Dew point: 16.1°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: W 19 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”
Elisabeth Foley