Full House

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Autumn!

Yesterday we were out at the Camp for a few hours. What a beautiful day it was! Attila brought his chain saw and managed to get two of the many dead trees out. But the recent rains brought water back to the swamp, so many dead trees remain to be removed at another time. Grace the trailer was closed up for the winter, and happily there was no sign of mice inside. The mouse trap will be left operational for the winter, using plumber’s anti-freeze. it is hoped that the wildlife will live in the wild, and that the trap will be empty come spring. Hopefully there will be more

Today began with heavy, cold rain. The skies are unbroken and the colour of slate. Attila is shutting down much of the garden, mulching some of the perennials, pulling frost killed plants and cutting them up for the composters.

I made tomato sauce this morning, from the tomatoes that have ripened in the basement. There are still quite a few tomatoes down there, and most of them will ripen nicely, for eating, and for more tomato sauce. I am not going to can any more tomatoes, we have enough for this season, and enough pizza sauce as well in the freezer. So as the green tomatoes ripen, they will be either eaten fresh, or made into a sauce for the refrigerator. Tomato based soups will be on the menu this week.

Attila’s ferments are only two weeks old, but they both developed kahm yeast. Attila removed the kahm yeast, and pronounced the ferments tasted great. They were put in mason jars and refrigerated, and won’t last long. What was learned though, was that the ferments with kahm yeast could have been left the full fermentation time, 20 days minimum, before removing the yeast and bottling for the refrigerator.

Attila’s garden harvest was amazing this year. Not since moving away from the family farm have I seen such home grown bounty. Our house is now full, the bulk of the harvest is in, and there is no more room on the shelves, or in the freezer.

Garden Harvest:

Dandelion Blooms*
Nasturtium Leaves and Blooms
Chamomile*
Lemon Balm*
Cilantro
Cardamon*
Basil*
Oregano*
Dill*
Strawberries
Rhubarb*
Ground Cherries*
Melons
Sweet Peppers
Cayenne Peppers*
Jalapeno Peppers*
Habanero Peppers*
Spinach*
Radishes*
English Cucumbers*
Peas
Carrots
Green Beans
Scarlet Runner Beans*
Swiss Chard
Beets
Cabbage*
Brussel Sprouts*
Tomatoes: Beefsteak, Cherry, Black Russian, Roma, Mountain Spring Hybrid*

* INDICATES harvested in sufficient quantity to surpass immediate consumption needs, so requiring preservation.

Over the last year or so, I have acquired some fantastic food processing equipment. All of it got a good workout this year.

Food Preservation Equipment Used:

Canning Jars: 1 liter, 500-ml, 250-ml, wide mouth and regular mouth
Metal Canning Lids and Rings
Pickle Pipes (silicone)
Pickle Pebbles (glass)
Fermenting Jar Rings
All American Pressure Canner
Victorio Steam Canner
Victorio Steam Juicer
Two 8 Quart Stock Pots
One 16 Quart Stock Pot
Long Handled Wooden Spoon
Sieves
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Tongs
Clean cotton rags
Onion Chopper
Apple Whacker
Paring Knives
Food Mill
Apple Whacker
Food Processor
Dehydrator
Onion Chopper
Stove Oven
Vacuum Sealer
Vacuum Sealer Bags

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It is bright and sunny this morning! My load of laundry is almost finished washing, so that I can hang it on the line. The laundry will be hung on the line under the porch until the temperature drops so low that it will freeze out there. So far, the weather has been bonny for hanging out the wash.

Time slipped away on me again. A few busy days, checking things off my list. Actually, yesterday afternoon I checked the last thing off my list! But of course, it is time to start a new list. I love lists, they keep my mind free of clutter, and my days focused on the things that matter to me.

Attila and I decided that it would be best to apply window film to the lower portion of all of the living room windows. Up until Sunday evening, the possibility of coming out of the bathroom after a shower, to go to the bedroom to get dressed required closing the living room curtains, before dawn and after dusk. Open curtains opened up the possibility that anyone down the street, from the street, from a vehicle, from a house window, could look into our house if the lights were on, and observe us in the hallway and bedrooms. It was a niggling concern, which we have dealt with diligently over the last ten years, but now seemed a good time to address the issue.

The project of applying window film has been put off for weeks. All other projects seemed appealing, compared to it. The materials had been waiting. Our grocery bill has been lower this autumn, with our garden bounty providing so much of what we have been eating, so the surplus was used to purchase window film. All other projects seemed appealing, compared to this project. But at last, Monday morning, I had run out of excuses, the only project left on my list was applying window film. So it began.

Measuring and cutting such a large and cumbersome roll of plastic is difficult to do in a small, almost tiny, house. It took a half an hour to clear a space on the floor, large enough to spread out the film, in order to measure and cut it. And I can honestly say that the older I get, the more difficult it gets to work on projects using the floor as my workspace. Getting down there, and back up again, over and over and over again, well, it isn’t any fun. I am grateful I can still do it, but this is one of the rare instances where I find living in such a small space constraining.

The project took all day. Attila said he was glad he wasn’t here for it, and well he might! Some curmudgeony endeavors are best tackled solo, this was that sort of endeavor. At completion, the constant tension of the “fish bowl” effect evaporated. Why didn’t I make this happen earlier!!

Another project was to start two more ferments, green Ground Cherries, and Jalapeno Peppers. The Ground Cherries are experimental, they may be tasty, but they may not. All a failure will cost is a few teaspoons of wasted salt, so it is worth a try.

My crock of apple scraps are fermenting nicely. The crock is covered with a cotton cloth held in place with an elastic band, and is stirred daily to prevent mold from forming. It smells grand, very hard cidery. In about a week I will strain the fruit from the liquid, jar the liquid and compost the fruit scraps. Then the mixture will sit in a dark cupboard for weeks, until it it transforms itself into Apple Cider Vinegar. The last of the 2018 Apple Cider Vinegar, that was made with our own Crabapples, was used last night.

One of the projects being undertaken here at Mist Cottage is to reduce the recyclables. That was the starting point. Most of the recyclables here are beverage containers, coffee, milk, juice, and plain soda. In an effort to minimize packaging from beverages, a customized recipe of Switchel was prepared, and stored in a clean, empty two liter juice container that would have ended up in the recycling bin. Attila loves this stuff! So, some of the juice containers will no longer be coming into the house. Switchel, as per the recipe, is a sugary drink, and sugary drinks are a treat and not a beverage. The plan it so play with the sweetening agent, substituting some of the honey for Stevia. It will be an experiment to alter the proportions of honey to stevia until a delicious yet healthy balance is achieved.

There is an added benefit to Switchel, it is a lot less expensive than juice. Since a whopping third of our food budget is spent on beverages, this is a step towards reducing the food bills.

So far I’ve tackles a few small tasks. In 2017 I harvested some lovely lavender flowers, dried them, then stuck them in a glass jar with a lid. Today I removed the little blossoms from the stems, placed the blossoms in a labelled jar, and set the stems aside pending research into possible uses for them.

The edge of the forest at the Camp.
Where my day was spent, breaking up the dead branches, that were collected from all over the cleared area. The walk to collect dead branches is getting longer every season. When we started small trees and deadwood were dense into the cleared area, right up to the frontof the lawn chairs. It is much different now.
In the next few years the dead wood under the hydro lines will be gathered and burned, and that is a very long walk indeed!
Note the ring of sand around the fire pit, it was refreshed this year with three 7 gallon bucketfuls of sand, that had been shoveled up from our driveway. The sand in the driveway is the runoff from the road, and is a result of all the heavy construction equipment traveling past us daily. It is ours now!
Deadwood burning in the fire pit. The fire was allowed to burn down at lunch time, and hot dogs were roasted over the coals. They were served on homemade bread, with home grown chopped tomato, home grown Zucchini Relish, some mayonnaise and some chopped onions. Lip smacking good!
This little fellow was busy investigating me! He showed up at my elbow, as I was sitting in my chair. Eventually he moved, and disappeared from sight, although he was probably in plain sight, so well camouflaged was he.
The ingredients for Switchel, all lined up and waiting. On the left is the last of 2018 homemade Apple Cider Vinegar, made from our own Crabapples.

Worldly

Weather

13°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 30 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 12.9°C
Dew point: 8.9°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: N 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.”
Aristotle
384 BC – 322 BC

I have found this to be true, in my experience. I will say though, that picking fruit, and other menial labour jobs I have had, allowed a certain freedom of thought. It was only the “professional” jobs, where the mind was confined to set parameters, that cut into mental health. With manual labour, I could read a book in the evenings, and think about it all day doing repetitive manual tasks. I had a pretty good time actually, working on the farms.

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

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 –

Bwa ha ha ha

Happy Hallowe’en!

My All Souls list includes my Granny and Grandpa, my former partner Pat Logier, friends Norm Hacking, Derek Currie, Sam Larkin, Irene Bean, Sarah (Rhubarb), Alison Simms, Paul Simpson-Housely, my brother Carl, my Aunts Marie and Anna, my second baby born too soon and who I never saw, Blackie the Dog, Bim the Dog, Mist the Kitty, and many more. Now they travel other shores. The world was a better place for their lives lived, my world was a better place. How lucky I have been.

What a dismal day! It rained off and on all day, and it was cold. It looks like the little Trick or Treaters are going to have a cold, wet walk-around this evening. Last year no one came to our door, and we ended up eating all the candy we bought for those phantom children. So this year the exterior lights are off, the curtains drawn, and we have no candy, or anything else, to distribute. I always enjoyed handing out candy to the costumed hopefuls who came to the door, so I feel a little let down, but not a lot.

And so October comes to a close. What a month! Well, aren’t they all, in their own way.

This evening I stuck with the tried and true for dinner, Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice and Vegetables, in the Instant Pot. It was very good, so I feel replenished, and will go back to my Instant Pot experimentation tomorrow.

We are in the midst of a rotating mail strike here, but the bills have made it through! I should be glad, but their arrival is not inspiring joy. One lovely thing that did arrive this week was a book, we don’t buy many these days, but this one took our fancy. Attila has Finnish heritage, so we are both finding Pantsdrunk: The Finnish Guide To Drinking At Home. Alone. In Your Underwear. very amusing. It feels good to laugh. Of course we don’t drink, but we do the at home, along, in your underwear with great panache. Just imagine!

Worldly

Weather

12°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Wednesday 31 October 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 11.9°C
Dew point: 11.9°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: WSW 10 km/h
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
Andre Gide
1869 – 1951

Adapting

Tank is still at garage camp. Oh my how the weeks fly. After my conversation with the garage staff last week, they are keeping me in the loop. I called them yesterday to see how things stood, they were still working on figuring out just what the problem is, and they called me back near the end of the day to tell me how things were going. They are anxious to get Tank fixed, and the repair paid for, and we are anxious to get Tank back. Similar goals. All I can do is wait and keep my fingers crossed. I am beyond being frustrated about this, and I have now adapted to a lifestyle where I have no mobility when Attila has the car at work. Thank goodness for online shopping, and Amazon Prime. All of my appointments for the next two weeks have been cancelled or rescheduled. There is no public transit here, and taxi fare isn’t in my budget. At some point Attila will have to start taking vacation time, so that I can have a vehicle for appointments, but it hasn’t come to that yet.

My project for today is to make meatless meatballs. We purchased some from Walmart once, and actually preferred them to beef or chicken meatballs. But the store-bought products are full of chemicals, and are extremely expensive.

The second issue with meatballs is the meat. I like to restrict red meat consumption to one meal a week, chicken consumption to two meals a week, fish consumption to two meals a week, and that leave two meals a week that will be vegetarian. We love our Quinoa and Spinach in the Instant Pot, so that will be a weekly dinner. One more meatless meal needed, and that is where the meatless meatballs come into play, Spaghetti and Meatballs.

The solution is to find a good recipe for meatless meatballs, and make them myself. Today is the day for attempt number one. I am following a recipe called Simple Vegan Meatballs. The meatballs will be for dinner tonight, I am trying this recipe for Soccer Mom Spaghetti and Meatballs.

This will take most of the day!

First thing was to find the coffee grinder, to grind the flax-seed. I use a lot of flax-seed. It is a basic ingredient for muffins, breakfast cereal, and my Turmeric Breakfast Cookies. I always use it whole, and do not grind it.

Popular wisdom says flax-seed must be ground to get all the nutrients out of it. I spent a lot of time looking for the research that lends support to that theory, and found none. The often stated “fact” is not supported by any scientific studies, just assumptions. I KNOW the whole flax-seed I consume does not remain whole when digested, don’t ask me how. So if it is being broken down for digestion, I am not entirely sure that grinding it has any nutritional benefit, it might, but that remains to be seen. I am open to reliable evidence one way or the other.

Oh yes, I had to find the coffee grinder, no idea where to start looking for it, so that took some time.

After finding the coffee grinder, stowed away in a plastic bag in the topmost cupboard of the storage closet in the kitchen, the flax was ground and the “flax egg” was made and set aside in the refrigerator. After 15 minutes the flax egg and the rest of the ingredients went into the food processor. The taste was wonderful, but the consistency was nothing like the online recipe. It was too soft to hold a shape. So the saute step was skipped, and the meatball mixture was dropped by spoonful onto the baking sheets and baked.

A few adaptations were made to the recipe. The quantities were changed to: two drained cans of chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of ground basil, 1 teaspoon of oregano, two teaspoons of garlic plus, 1 tablespoon of garlic granules, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and 1 teaspoon of tomato powder (homemade). No salt was added.

These soft meatballs will not go into the Instant Pot, where I fear they will turn to mush, or dissolve. They will be heated, and placed on the dish after the spaghetti has been cooked and plated.

The whole concept needs work, the goal is round meatless meatballs, cooked and frozen, and ready to throw into a meal in the Instant Pot. First steps are always the hardest!

Worldly

Weather

0°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Tuesday 30 October 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 0.4°C
Dew point: -1.2°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: WNW 11 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Aristotle
384 BC – 322 BC