I Love Weekends!

Saturday, August 8, 2020: 10 a.m.

Yesterday Attila took a day off so that we could visit the Camp. It has been some time since we were last there, the heat wave lasted all of July, making it unpleasant to be outdoors. I had been quite concerned about the bucket mouse trap in the trailer. A dead mouse, in the heat wave, would be quite odoriferous, and not much fun to deal with. But we were in for a great surprise, no mice in the trap! Thank goodness. I really wish they would not come into the trailer at all. We have done everything we can think of to discourage them, but they are still finding their way in.

The burn ban was lifted for the area, so we had a campfire. Where our Camp is located a fire permit is required to have a campfire. Every year I obtaina fire permit. A great bonus is that the municipality actually telephones permit holders to notify them of burn bans, and again when the burn bans are lifted. It is a great program! We are very careful about our campfires. Our fire pit is build to regulation specifications, and we keep a barrel of water adjacent to the area, in case it is needed, and for water to thoroughly douse the ashes when the fire is spent. We love our forest getaway, and would hate to see fire harm any of the plant life or wild life.

The day was perfect. A light breeze blew. The sun shone. The temperature was hot, but not humid. Birds sang in the trees.

I collected dead branches from the forest around the clearing, and kept a campfire burning. Attila used the trimmer to cut the “grass”, which is really an assortment of indigenous weeds. We have a second clearing on the property, and yesterday it was covered with swaying white carpet of Queen Anne’s Lace or Daucus Carota. This native plant reminds me of my childhood on the farm, where it grew everywhere. Attila left these beautiful plants standing, they can be “mowed” after they go to seed.

We saw lots of red ripe Sumac, and I wanted to pick some to make Sumac Jelly. But I forgot. Relaxing has its down side, and for me that means I forget little things as my mind enjoys just being. I don’t need more jelly right now, as I have limited my sugar intake, but still, some Sumac Jelly would have been nice.

This morning I am sitting on the back porch, Attila is sleeping. This quiet time in the morning is so wonderful. I’ve watched the hummingbirds visit the bright scarlet blooms on the Scarlet Runner Beans, as they seem to do early every morning. There is a new bird frequenting the area, a woodpecker of some kind I think. I have yet to get a good look at it though, to try to identify it. The sun is slowly making its way across the garden, and has just overtaken the Heliopsis, creating a dazzle of yellow.

Soon the day’s projects will begin. Attila is harvesting Cabbage this morning, which means we will be canning more Coleslaw, and of course using our garden Carrots as well in the recipe. Basil will also be harvested, for another batch of Pesto for the freezer, using our garden Garlic as well. I need to make Switchel for the upcoming work week, and to bake squares or muffins of some kind, for snacks and packed lunches. If there are any mature Zucchini, I will also be canning Zucchini-Pineapple.

One of the items not available this year where we buy groceries, where it was always available before the Pandemic, is 5% Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar. It does not have the mother, and is a significantly less expensive than the Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother. For canning, the mother is not relevant, as the process of canning kills everything, including the mother. So the less expensive Apple Cider Vinegar is what I use for canning, and I can’t get it right now. I certainly hope it comes back on the market at some point!

We have had a brief few days of freedom from oppressive heat and humidity, but that is going to end over the next day or so, when temperatures rise again. I am slowly acclimatizing to the new weather pattern of high heat and humidity, and can remain comfortable in the shade, as long as I do not move. But if I get up to do anything, feed a campfire, weed a garden, then I overheat within minutes. So when it is hot I don’t move much when I am outdoors, and I drink plenty of fluids. I find that on the low-sodium diet, I also need to eat a little extra salt on those days when I moving around and perspiring, otherwise I get dizzy.

Well, here comes Attila with a bowl full of Basil for me to turn into Pesto, so off I go, it is time to get busy in the kitchen.

Saturday, August 8, 2020: 8:00 p.m.

Phew! What a busy day. The Pesto got made, it is in the freezer. But as I was finishing off the Pesto, in Attila came with a big bowl of Cucumbers, a few English Cucumbers, and a lot of Pickling Cucumbers. There were four pounds of Cucumbers, enough for a batch of Dill Slices. So that is what I did, I canned seven jars of Dill Slices. I took a brief pause to eat a piece of toast with peanut butter and Cranberry Orange Sauce (home canned), then returned to the kitchen to work on the Coleslaw project. 5 jars of Coleslaw were canned, using our garden Cabbage, and our garden Carrots. All of my canned jars sealed, yay!

Then it was time to think about dinner, which I mention because we have discovered a new favourite food. Mashed Kohlrabi and Potatoes, with sour cream. Attila and I had not ever tried Kohlrabi until we grew and harvested our own this year. We added air fried wieners, and there we had a “junk” food meal. It was delicious. Attila planted more Kohlrabi right after supper!

The day turned hot, and humid, so I am hanging out indoors until later this evening, when it might cool down enough for me to sit out on the back porch.

Attila is investigating an intruder. Some of our Kohlrabi leaves were nibbled, probably by a rabbit. It must be a small one, because we have our fenced in area well protected. Two possible entry points are under consideration. Of course, it just might be a wacky squirrel, sometimes they destroy plants just for the heck of it.

Now I am heading back to the kitchen to bake a cake. A long time ago I bought a cake mix, for a pink cake, because I thought we would see our Grandbabies, and I knew they liked Cupcakes, and the girls love pink. But we didn’t see them, the cupcakes never got made, and the cake mix has been sitting in the cupboard reminding me that I shouldn’t eat it. So tonight I am going to bake that cake, and eat a little of it, and freeze the rest for Attila to take in his lunches next week.

Stay safe dear friends!

Worldly

Weather

23°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Saturday 8 August 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.0°C
Dew point: 20.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: SSE 7 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”
H. L. Mencken
1880 – 1956

The Last Frontier

We moved here almost five years ago, funnelling the belongings that filled an 1800 square foot house into about 640 square feet. We have been renovating here at Mist Cottage since we moved in, and for five years before we moved in. The only contracted work was to dig up around the foundation to install a drainage system and a water guard, new window installation, and attic insulation. Otherwise all of the labour for our renovations has been done by us. I provide all of the administrative, financial, research, and development aspects of the renovations, as well as all of the domestic necessities, basically keeping the boat afloat while Attila is focused on physical projects.

All of the serious structural issues with the house have been addressed as well as they can be, with the exception of the wiring and plumbing, which still need replacement, or at the very least tweaking. There is a lot of work remaining, in the realm of the cosmetic: gutting the exterior walls on the main floor, wire, insulate, drywall; new back door; new back porch and deck; new flooring in all but kitchen and bathroom; paint walls and ceiling; new kitchen cabinets; new stairs to basement… and the list goes on. I doubt we will ever be finished. But I think that once the basement is organized, renovating will be a more comfortable process than it has been thus far.

The project that Attila began working on in November of 2019, was to build stud walls in the basement, and to install insulation and drywall. He finished that just a few weeks ago, much to our delight.

At last, we are beginning the project of organizing the basement!!!

Since we live here, and our belongings are stored in the basement, reorganizing is not a simple exercise.

Here is an example of how things go. Attila had the heavy filing cabinets pulled away from the wall to do the drywall. The cabinets are difficult to move around, so we decided that painting the floor along the wall would be wise before the cabinets were moved back into place. That took about two weeks, to clean the floor, allow it to dry, apply paint, wait for it to dry, then apply more paint, then wait for that to dry. Attila works full time, in a hot and exhausting environment, and he maintains a sizable garden, so there is limited time and energy available to work on home renovation, so getting all that done in a two week period is commendable.

With the floor painted, the space was now ready to be put into use. It was decided that the tools and items from the garage, that needed to come indoors during the winter, would be stored along the section of wall above the newly painted floor. This involved moving a storage rack which then opened access to the space under the stairs. Soooo, it was decided that this was the best opportunity clean and paint the floor under the stairs, that took two days.

With all the floor paint dry, Attila could then move the storage racks into place, and it took a day to sort through the items and store them on the racks, that took half a day.

Today we finally moved on, to the area of the basement where the freezer sits. In order to move the freezer to the most efficient location, it needed to be plugged in to a different outlet. Attila tested the outlet and found it to be installed incorrectly, the terminals were reversed. Soooo, it was decided that the electrical outlet needed to be reinstalled correctly before moving the freezer. Simple yes? No! It turned out that all of the outlets in that part of the basement were reversed, three more of them. So all of those outlets had to be rewired too. This will take one day, today. Then, when the rewiring is completed, we can move the freezer.

While we are taking these things step by step, the rest of the house is in chaos, because there isn’t a lot of room to place displaced items, while they wait for their “forever home” on a shelf, somewhere in the basement. Another element adding to the chaos is our annual purchase of wheat berries, they are bulky. And then of course, we are harvesting from the garden, and all of the Cucumber Pickles and Zucchini-Pineapple I have been canning, about 50 jars so far, take up a lot of room.

Organizing the basement is going to take a lot of time and effort.

I am so very grateful that all of this chaos is confined to the living room and the basement!!! My kitchen is a bit cluttered, but manageable. The bedroom and bathroom are likewise manageable. We can eat and sleep comfortably, the basics are covered, so we are good.

We are never, ever, bored.

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Thursday 6 August 2020
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 21.9°C
Dew point: 14.9°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Humidex: 26
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”
Mary Caroline Richards
1916 – 1999

Is it just me!

I have been self-isolating since February, 5 months. Then last week I had to have an ultrasound, it was not a good experience. It was my first foray into the world in a long time. Today I had to go into a retail outlet to purchase the wheat for my bread. It was my second foray into the world in less than a week, and it was not a good experience. Since I’ve only had two experiences in the last five months, I can’t tell whether I’ve just had very bad luck, or if the world out there is getting a great deal nastier than it already was.

The company that sells Canadian Wheat at a price we can afford is in Toronto. They will not ship, and will not allow pre-order, and prepayment, before pickup.

I HAD to go into the store. They warned me on the phone, that there might be other customers in the store, they were not monitoring that. So after the long drive to Toronto, I wore a big shirt and long pants over my clothes, donned my mask and face shield, and entered the store.

It was awful. There were four people ahead of me in line to order. One young man wasn’t wearing a mask at all, and he and the cashier (she was wearing a mask) were giving me withering looks and saying over and over to each other, “unbelievable” and shaking their heads. That was extremely unpleasant, I stood my ground.

While waiting in line another man came in wearing no mask and started wandering around, I had to move several times to keep him at a distance. The man in line ahead of me was wearing a mask, but he was wearing it over his mouth only, his nose exposed, he talked and laughed a lot. I kept my distance.

The cashier, when my turn came, kept asking me to repeat myself, even though I was shouting so loud there was an echo, and rolling her eyes at me. BUT the order got taken, I paid the bill, and got out of there. It was awful, and it was over.

Is everyone else having these kinds of issues with people not wearing masks in retail outlets? Wow.

Then we had to go the delivery bay to pick up the order and the whole atmosphere changed. The warehouse staff were exceptional, all wearing masks, polite, helpful, kept their distance, just great!

It took a while to sanitize me before I could get back into the car, removing the exposed clothing and bagging it, spritzing myself with hydrogen peroxide, cleaning the face shield. We covered our purchases with a blanket, to prevent any airborne particles hanging about in the cab of the car during the long trip home.

We buy our wheat annually, it is a long trip there and back. It isn’t an activity I look forward to!!!!!

We are home safe and sound now, everything is washed, or sprayed with hydrogen peroxide. All our clothes for the day have been laundered, we have showered, and can finally relax.

The round trip took six and half hours, and the follow up at home, sanitizing and dealing with exposed items such as our purchases, the credit card, and the face shield, took another three hours.

I am exhausted.

Tomorrow we begin the process of storing what we purchased.

If we don’t get sick from that visit to the retail outlet, I will consider today’s adventure a total success.

Worldly

Weather

20°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Tuesday 4 August 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.1°C
Dew point: 19.2°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: NW 10 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s a dangerous business going out your front door.”
J. R. R. Tolkien
1892 – 1973

You could roof your house…


Who Knew! You probably did know, but I didn’t.

This morning, as we were sitting chatting on the back porch, Attila rose from his chair and wandered into the garden. I watched him with some interest, as he leaned into the garden area by the fence, and pulled out a huge plant. What was it? I could not tell, it was not familiar to me. I thought it might be a big weed, as unlikely as that would be, a huge weed in Attila’s garden. But Attila, after removing dirt from the roots, walked toward the porch, prize in hand.

It was a purple Kohlrabi! It is a Heritage Variety, Early Purple Vienna, the seeds were purchased from the Baker Creek seed company. It was about 5 inches in diameter, with an impressive three foot array of leaves. And that was my morning, learning about Kohlrabi, then putting putting that knowledge to practical use.

Nutritionally, Kohlrabi is a great food, related to Kale and Cabbage and other Brassicas. Not only is it tasty, it is low in calories and carbohydrates, and high in nutrients you want in your diet.

One cup (135 grams) of raw kohlrabi provides:

Calories 37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 27 mg 1%
Potassium 472.5 mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 8 g 2%
Dietary fiber 4.9 g 19%
Sugar 3.5 g
Protein 2.3 g 4%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 139%
Calcium 3%
Iron 2%
Vitamin D 0%
Vitamin B-6 10%
Cobalamin 0%
Magnesium 6%
*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Not only is the Kohlrabi bulb edible, the leaves and stems are also edible and nutritious.

First I got a bucket of water, removed and washed the leaves and stems. The leaves were very substantial, hardy, and water rolled right off them. They were so tough, that as I washed each large leaf I hung it on the clothesline with a clothespin. A small piece of leaf was torn off for tasting, and I chewed, and chewed, and chewed. They tasted pleasant enough, but they were as tough as could be. A few leaves were cut into smaller pieces and boiled, and you know what, when they were removed from the boiling water after cooking, they were every bit as tough and chewy as when they went into the pot.

I think you might be able to roof your house with mature Kohlrabi leaves!

The upshot was that we both liked the flavour of the leaves. But I did not like the texture, Attila did not mind it. It was decided that the leaves and stems needed to be chopped very fine in order to make them easy to chew, so that they could be added to soups and stews. The food processor was used to finely chop the raw leaves and stems, which were then blanched for three minutes. They were strained, divided into a muffin tin, and placed in the freezer. Tomorrow the Kohlrabi “pucks” will be removed from the muffin tin, and kept in a freezer bag to be used as an ingredient for winter meals. The blanching liquid was delicious, so it was placed in a mason jar in the refrigerator for use in the next batch of soup.

Poking around on the Internet I discovered a recipe that cooked the diced Kohlrabi bulb like a Potato. Another recipe mashed cooked Potato with cooked Kohlrabi together. So I combined these concepts. The Kohlrabi was peeled and diced. Four medium potatoes were peeled and diced. They were cooked together, on the rack and steamer, in the Instant Pot for 16 minutes, natural release. They were removed and mashed together with about two tablespoons of butter. We had them for lunch.

This is a WIN! This combination is delicious, and since the Kohlrabi is very low in calories and carbohydrates, adding it to the mashed potato reduces both significantly. And we both like the taste of the combination much better than plain mashed potatoes.

There are five more Kohlrabi in the garden, almost ready to harvest, so we know what we are going to do with them! The bulbs we do not eat immediatly will be peeled, diced, then either blanched and frozen, or canned for winter meals. The leaves and stems will be chopped, blanched, and frozen in muffin tins for winter meals. The few bits left, mostly peel, will be frozen, to later be used with other vegetable scraps in the steam juicer, to make vegetable broth.

We have more seeds, so Attila is going to plant more Kohlrabi this week, for a late fall harvest. They are cold tolerant plants, so we have high hopes of a second crop.

As I am sitting here on the back deck, having had a wonderful lunch consisting of mashed Potato and Kohlrabi, topped with a dollop of sour cream, I am filled with a physical feeling of well-being. I put it down to Kohlrabi.

So far this long weekend, I have canned 8 jars of Dill Slice pickles, 5 jars of Zucchini-Pineapple, and 7 jars of Coleslaw. The easiest recipe of the three is the Zucchini-Pineapple, due to only four ingredients, and simple steps make. The Coleslaw is the the most intricate recipe, it involves finely chopping four vegetables, then brining the vegetables, so it has a few extra steps. But they are all easy recipes really, thanks to the Steam Canner. I will never willingly use a water bath canner again!

I will end here, add some pictures, and get this entry posted. I am enjoying the day immensely, sitting still on the back porch, it is still cool enough to do that at 2:00 p.m.! The breeze, the sunshine, the fresh smells of a summer day, watching the birds and bees cavort in the garden, and enjoying the flowers and plants that grow there, it is a lovely day.

Yesterday’s project, 7 jars of Coleslaw.
Made with store bought Ontario Cabbage, Onions, Red Peppers, and our Garden Carrots. Canned in the Steam Canner.
Early Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, seeds from Baker Creek.
Attila just harvested his seed Garlic, for planting this fall.
Rose Hip, Granny’s Rose. There seem to be quite a few Rose Hips this year, I have my fingers crossed that there will be enough to make Rose Hip Jelly.
Granny’s Heliopsis, over 7 feet tall. These blooms sway gracefully at every breath of breee, and are very popular with a great variety of bees, large and small.

Worldly

Weather

26°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Monday 3 August 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 24.9°C
Dew point: 18.9°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: SSW 18 km/h
Humidex: 32
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
Henry Winkler
1945 –

Catching Up

In January we stopped bringing our mail as-is directly into the house. At first I misted it with hydrogen peroxide, following hand washing protocols. But it was soon impossible to purchase hydrogen peroxide, so that strategy was not sustainable. Then we setup a system of cardboard shelves to quarantine the letters for a week before handling them. But out of sight, out of mind, took over that strategy. Attila kept adding mail to the shelves, but wasn’t taking it out. I luxuriously forgot that there was any mail. He did know what was coming in though, so only one tax bill snuck by us, and was not paid on time.

So today I took the sizable stack of mail, which had accumulated since January, and sorted through it. I paid the tax bill that had slipped by unnoticed, and the rest have to be processed, then filed. It is lunch time and I have only just got the initial sorting done on the pile, and I’ve been working on it since 7:00 a.m. this morning. Administration is one of my least favourite activities, but it needs to be done, and going forward I am hoping we can stay on top of it, so that six months worth of mail don’t need to be dealt with all at once.

The day is lovely! The windows are all open. The garden is lush and happy, as we got a substantial rainfall yesterday, which filled the rain tank with about 900 litres of water. The garden of course, did not need to be watered yesterday, and will probably be good for today as well. This morning Attila brought in Swiss Chard for my lunch. I already have a half Zucchini, and the carrots we harvested last week. When I toured the garden this morning, I picked a few items to add to my lunch vegetable medley, Nasturtium Blooms, and a single pea pod.

Two dewy Nasturtium Blooms and a Pea Pod, for my sauteed vegetable lunch.

Worldly

Weather

26°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Friday 31 July 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 24.2°C
Dew point: 18.4°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Humidex: 32
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.”
Albert Guinon
1863 – 1923

I regard this habit as an intellectual handicap, and I try to be patient with handicapped people… which is hard with this particular issue.
It makes for sloppy, slogging conversations.
Also, if you do not listen attentively you limit your ability to learn.