Rideau Camp On a November Day

I am sitting in my easy chair, with a cold beverage beside me on the side table, my crochet project set aside to take up the computer, so here I type.

This morning was cloudy and it was cold out there. We had snow on the ground, but it was melting fast. On the spur of the moment we decided to take a drive out to the Rideau Camp to see what was what out there. Last week a letter came in the mail to tell us the hydro work crews were coming through to clear under the hydro lines, and take down the marked trees (only one our property), and clear out all brush. We wanted to see if they’d been in to do that work. We also wanted to switch out the bucket mouse trap, from a bucket of water to just an empty bucket with some peanut butter near the bottom. A dry trap seems the better way to go, there will be no possible leakage.

When we arrived at the Camp there was a lot more snow than we had anticipated, as it was assumed there would be the same amount as at Mist Cottage. Wrong! There was about six inches of snow, and quite a snow bank across teh end of our driveway. We parked on the road, and I trekked into the property on foot, while Attila dug out a parking space at the end of the driveway that would get the vehicle off the narrow road.

It was oh so beautiful and still at the Camp. The snow was deep enough that true trudging was required to walk all the way into the Camp from the road. I enjoyed the crisp fresh air, a slight breeze that brought a gentle sway to the tree tops, and calm, sweet quiet. We heard a few crows, but no human sounds reached our ears, other than our small scurryings along the drive and here and there into the forest to see what was what.

The bucket mouse trap in Grace the trailer had captured two more mice, and the water had frozen into a solid block. Since the mice died natural deaths, as no poison was involved, it was safe to dump the icy grave far into the bush, with no fear of harm to other animals in the ecosystem there. We dumped the rainwater barrel, and upturned it for the winter, put away the screen that sits on top of it, and carried out the propane tank, as we won’t be using propane at the Camp again until late March, or April.

With all the leaves gone we can see into the bush all around, see features in the landscape that are usually obscured by greenery. A few trees had fallen since last winter, out into the bush. They will be left to natural processes, as it is only the land that is actually being used for camping that needs to be cleared and kept cleared. Our plan is to leave the rest of the environment to its own natural processes.

After an hour or so we began to feel the cold, and so made our way through the snow and back out to the car. A neighbour driving by stopped and got out to chat with us. He lives across the road from our property and keeps an eye out for our place, noting license plate numbers of any vehicle that he knows doesn’t belong in the area. He is also going to keep a parking area cleared out for us, as he goes by with his plough quite frequently, which is very, very nice of him. Two of our other neighbours also keep an eye out for our property and in the neighbourhood, it is a small community.

We arrived home in time for lunch.

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

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I had a bag of Honeycrisp apples that were beginning to deteriorate in the refrigerator. There is also a good supply of rhubarb in the freezer, which we harvested from our garden here at Mist Cottage. So I decided to combine the two, applesauce/stewed rhubarb, in one pot. So three pounds of peeled, cored and sliced apples, combined with eight cups of frozen diced rhubarb went into the stock pot with a cup of sugar. I had my doubts. But wow, is it ever good! We have eaten the first container of three. The other two were frozen, and so the second container is now thawing on the kitchen counter. This is a real winner, I find it so much more pleasant than plain stewed rhubarb, and enjoy the tanginess it lends to the apples.

My Crabapple Vinegar project seems to be doing well, no mold, and the strong alcohol aroma is dying down, as it slowly turns from hard cider into vinegar.

During the summer I collected seed heads from the Marigolds, Giant Marigolds, and Cosmos. They were placed in paper bags which I hung from the clothes line on the back porch, where they completely dried. For the last week it has been a project to sort out the seeds from the dried petals and stems. This was a fairly easy thing to do with the Giant Marigolds and Marigolds, but not so simple with the Cosmos, that has smaller seeds that are more difficult to detect. The job was done yesterday, the seeds stored in labelled envelopes, and the envelopes set aside to be stored. This evening a ladder was fetched to bring down the collection of empty metal tins that reside on top of the refrigerator. They were dusted off, and one was chosen for the seeds. The seeds will be kept in the basement, where they will stay dry in their rodent proof metal container.

So another quiet Saturday night is in progress. Attila is out working in his garage, still finishing up with blocking the rafters, and installing wiring for the spotlight outside. i am crocheting, reading, chatting away here, and just generally feeling satisfied with my day.

Worldly

Weather

-2°C
Date: 9:00 PM EST Saturday 17 November 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure:102.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -2.0°C
Dew point: -6.3°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: WNW 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -5
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom…”
Bell Hooks

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.

Furnace

The oil furnace kicked in last night, for the first time this fall. That means the temperature outside dropped below -7C last night. I am very relieved that the furnace worked as it should, as we had some trouble with it a few weeks ago. Attila fixed had fixed it, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. It worked, hooray!

My Sister-The-Youngest-Girl was headed for a visit to our cousin in Ottawa, and chose a route going right by Mist Cottage. So she stopped by for a visit, and I cooked us a lunch to share. She is enjoying her time off work, and the drive was lovely she said, except trying to get through Toronto, that wasn’t much fun. I have not found it much fun either! My Mom sent along some picture for me, ones that I had thought were lost forever, I didn’t think they existed anymore. They were class pictures taken during my elementary school years. Oh my, what memories! I could remember the names of most of the teachers, and many of the other students, which surprised me, as I’ve not had any contact with any of them since, well, lets just say over 50 years. That is a long time to remember names! And to my delight one of the pictures was my Grade 6 class, with my favourite teacher of all time, Mrs. B. Mrs. B. escaped the holocaust in Germany, her family left the country buried under the coal in a train car. She was the kind, and patient, and tolerant, and… the list goes on. What a wonderful human being. Apparently she was my sister’s kindergarten teacher, I hadn’t known that.

For lunch we had Quinoa and Spinach, prepared in the Instant Pot, of course! I shared one of my Turmeric Breakfast Cookies with her, and she liked those as well. I was taken on a tour of her library online, and wow, so impressive compared to the library service where I live; library services are not subject to wide local variations it seems. We had a good time catching up with the latest news. Then she was off to continue her adventure. The sun was shining and although it was cold, it was a good day for a long drive.

Worldly

Weather

-7°C
Date: 8:00 PM EST Wednesday 14 November 2018
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 103.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -7.1°C
Dew point: -13.7°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: NNW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -11
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.”
Heinrich Heine
1797 – 1856

Sound like anyone?

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!