“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Tank was supposed to be ready by noon yesterday. I heard nothing from the garage. Attila called them when he got back from work, and they said they just had to check it out to make sure everything worked, wanted us to come get it the next day, Friday. Attila told them his wife would like it today, Thursday, and that we would be at the garage at 5 p.m. to pick up Tank.

When we got to the garage it was very busy, and Tank was nowhere to be seen. We greeted the desk staff, who said that it wouldn’t be long. Then we saw Tank arrive back from the test drive. We waited patiently. We watched as Tank was driven off the lot again, alerted by the terrible noise she was making as she drove away, she sounded like a diesel truck. Tank does not have a diesel engine. Not good. They explained something about two cylinders not working, they were working when she came to the garage, now they are not working. Not good. The fellow told us Tank will be ready today.

When we were there I decided to take charge of the interactions, after all I am here during the day, so I can call them. Actually I am the “bad cop” when we approach situations like this, a role I can easily assume. I pleasantly but firmly told the fellow that if Tank were not ready by Monday morning, they would HAVE to provide me with a courtesy car. I asked that I be called today to let me know what is going on with the vehicle. It was just after 1:00 p.m. and I hadn’t heard from them yet, so I called them. They are ordering parts directly from the dealer he said. No word on when the vehicle will be ready. They will call me this afternoon to keep me up to date on how things are going. At least no empty promises were made.

It is hard to remain optimistic about this situation. These guys are clearly in over their heads with this repair. I think they will try to make it right, but my GOD this is getting ridiculous. I had a very bad experience with a garage when I was doing research for my PhD and needed a vehicle. The garage was awful, wanted a fortune to return the vehicle, not having fixed it. I took them to small claims court and won, and since they were a franchise I called the mother company. I did not let that one lie. That garage lost their franchise, and I didn’t feel in the least bit sad about that. The consequences of the lost vehicle were catastrophic for me. It wasn’t until this morning that the bad feelings about that past fiasco resurfaced. This situation is going on way too long for comfort.

Feeling so tense, so irritable, what to do!

Why can of course!

I had saved all the apple peels from the 26 Northern Spy Apples that I used to make and can applesauce. They had been boiled until transparent, then strained. The liquid sat all day yesterday, I was too distraught to function in the kitchen. I did boil it for five minutes though, since it was sitting on the range for the day. This morning I made Applescrap Jelly with it. It is so good! I used the Apple Jelly with no pectin recipe from the National Centre for Home Preservation, and included the lemon juice. When the liquid was first strained there were eight cups, which were boiled down to four cups. The jelly had to cook for around twenty minutes to reach the sheeting stage, and it seemed as if it was not going to jell, but finally it did. The yield was small, but oh so good!

Two 500 ml jars of jelly.

Applescrap Jelly made with no pectin. Thank goodness for the new steam canner, which makes canning this wee bit of jelly perfectly viable. Both jars sealed as soon as I took them out of the canner. The partially full jar will go into the refrigerator to be used right away.



Date: 1:00 PM EDT Friday 26 October 2018
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.6°C
Dew point: -4.3°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: E 10 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose.”
Lyndon B. Johnson
1908 – 1973

Midst of Activity

Tank started to have issues on the 9th of October, I took her to garage number one. Come back Friday, October 12th, he said. On Friday afternoon he said he couldn’t do the job, take it to garage number two. Attila drove right over to garage number two, come back Tuesday, October 16th, they said. They called me on Wednesday, October 17th, and said that they had to order a part, costing $800, I gave the go ahead. We didn’t hear from them again so Attila called Friday afternoon, October 19th, we just got the part today they said, the vehicle will be ready by Tuesday, October 23, they said. No word. Attila just talked to them again. Tank isn’t ready, they said the kit they ordered didn’t come with valve cover gaskets, they had to order them from Montreal, should be there tomorrow, October 25th. Tank will be ready tomorrow they said.

In the meantime I had to cancel two appointments over the last two weeks, and I have an appointment a mile or so away from home at 8:30 tomorrow morning, which I confirmed yesterday based on garage number two promising Tank would be ready today. This appointment could have been rescheduled, if they had let me know what was going on with Tank. Now I have to walk to the appointment. If my knee gives out, so that I can’t get home again, I’ll be phoning a taxi and paying for that. Grrrr.

They told Attila that Tank would be ready by noon tomorrow, to call them. Eventually, one would think, Tank will be repaired and returned to us.

I guess I needed to spell it out for this garage, that they HAVE to call me to let me know if there is any change in their timeline. I had told them I had appointments that might need to be cancelled or rescheduled, but apparently this didn’t inspire them to keep me in the loop. I will be much clearer with them if there is a next time.

My whole day today was planned around picking up Tank when Attila got home from work. I rearranged my projects, and put one off entirely, to accommodate picking up Tank. When he called them and they once again said that Tank was not ready as promised, I experienced a mini-meltdown. Enough! Too much disruption! I let the feelings come, and after an hour so I watched them go. Attila allowed me the space I needed to deal with my emotions, while he cooked dinner, and cleaned up the kitchen. There is a reason I like living with Attila.

Tonight I am going to bake muffins, that should help me feel better!



Date: 6:00 PM EDT Wednesday 24 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 5.7°C
Dew point: 0.2°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: NNW 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“We must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”
Indira Gandhi
1917 – 1984

You win some…

Although I am an experienced canner, I am no stranger to failure. My penchant for experimentation gets me into trouble sometimes, other times it has delightful results. Yesterday was one of the times that things didn’t go according to hopes.

The first batch of canned Northern Spy Apples was successful, but for the packaging that was mistakenly left inside the canning lid during the canning session. The resulting canned apples were delicious, almost perfect, but there was some concern that they were shelf safe, so into the refrigerator they went. The first jar was opened and tasted wonderful!

Yesterday another 26 Northern Spy apples were peeled, cored, and diced. That was a big job. Then one teaspoon of sugar was added to each canning jar, the apples ladled into the jars, topped up with the water they had boiled in. Rims were checked, lids were placed on the jars, and the rings were screwed on the to the new very light “finger tight” that I had seen in a video. My usual finger tight is much tighter than this, so this was the first time I tried this new method of finger tightening in the pressure canner. The jars were pressure canned at 10 psi for 8 minutes.

The jars were removed from the canner when the pressure had fallen to zero. There was a surprise in store. The liquid in the jars had leaked out, about half of it from each jar. The jars were sticky, so the sugar must have dissolved so that it was a sugar syrup that escaped from the jars. All of the jars were sealed.

canning jars of apples with half the liquid missing

Half of the liquid leaked out of these 500 ml jars of Northern Spy apples. All of the jars sealed. The jars were very sticky! The one teaspoon of sugar that was added to the bottom of the jar, before adding the apples, must have dissolved. A failure in that the liquid escaped the jars. A success in that the jars all sealed.

I am suspicious that the leaking liquid was a result of the lightly finger tightened rings. I will try this again sometime, but jars headed for the pressure canner will be finger tightened more securely. The lightly finger tightened rings are fine for the steam canner, but not for the pressure canner.

I had a half a jar of these apples for breakfast, with fresh-baked biscuits. Oh my they were good! Not very sweet, but not tart either. An apple a day is what they say!

I tired myself out yesterday, preparing all those apples for canning. Today is a day to take it easy, paying bills, putting away canning equipment, reading, and anything else that takes my fancy. And I think I’ll just have myself another one of the biscuits!



Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.4°C
Dew point: 4.8°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: ENE 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“All love that has not friendship for its base, is like a mansion built upon sand.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
1850 – 1919

Last Vegetable Standing

squash growing into chain link fence

Blue Hubbard Squash: This squash choose to grow on the fence, and is the last vegetable standing (or clinging) in the garden.

Bex makes hats. Lots of beautiful hats. Bex may be grandly addicted to making hats. I see this as a good thing, and hundreds of other people who will be warm this winter will definitely agree.

I can food. I can lots of food. I think I may be grandly addicted to canning food. I see this as a good thing. My range is very limited, only Attila and I will eat this food.

On Saturday I canned six half litres of Green Tomato Mincemeat and three half litres of Sweet Green Tomato Relish. Last night I thought, there, done for the season!

jars of mincemeat and relish

Saturday’s canning session yielded six jars of Green Tomato Mincemeat, and three jars of Sweet Green Tomato Relish

This morning when Attila and I talked about the meals I would be cooking early in the week, I realized that the tomatoes I had been chopping and stewing and adding to a mason jar in the fridge, would not get used. Not wanting to risk losing the lovely tomatoes, and waste all my hard work chopping and stewing them, I decided to can them. So I prepared my jars, heated the tomatoes, added a 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each jar, ladled in the tomatoes, and soon had two half litre jars of organic tomatoes to go into the steam canner.

But, that wasn’t enough for me. I had some sugar syrup left from my latest attempt at fermenting our own apple cider vinegar. Not wanting to waste this little bit of syrup, it seemed like a good idea to can apple slices, and use it as the liquid in the canning jars. Four Northern Spy apples were peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced into a bath of ascorbic acid and water. The slices were too big to fit easily into the jars, so the apples were chopped. The water was drained from the chopped apples, and they were added to the sugar syrup in a saucepan. After being boiled for five minutes they were ladled into two half litre jars, which were soon ready to go into the steam canner.

The apples needed to be processed for 20 minutes. The tomatoes needed to be processed for 35 minutes. I processed both the apples and the tomatoes for 35 minutes.

jars of tomatoes and apples

Two jars of organic tomatoes and two jars of Northern Spy Apples.

But I was in for a very big surprise! When I took the lid off the canner, I discovered that the protective cardboard packing had been lodged in it. The steam canner had cooked it too! I was worried about the effect that would have on the canned goods, but the seals all popped, although it did take a lot longer than usual for them to do so. It was a success, but these jars will go into the fridge to be eaten over the next week or so. As Attila pointed out, I won’t ever do that again! Not only will I always check now, there is no longer any packaging to discover.

soaking wet piece of cardboard

Freshly steam canned packaging.

If we like the apples, I will can a lot more in this way, a perfect snack. However, in future they will be packed in water only, no syrup.



Date: 7:00 PM EDT Sunday 21 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 2.5°C
Dew point: -6.0°C
Humidity: 54%
Wind: WNW 10 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
Niels Bohr
1885 – 1962

I am working on it!

Sing Your Song

The weather yesterday and today has been grand! Blue skies and very windy, but lovely for a late October day.

There are times when a lot seems to go wrong, not tragically wrong, just exasperatingly wrong.

Tank was having issues almost two weeks ago, and I’ve been without a vehicle ever since. I’ve had to cancel a few appointments. I took her to the first garage, then waited four days for an opening for the mechanic to take a look at her. He did so, and informed me that he couldn’t do the job, too big for him, so Attila took Tank over to another reputable garage and they agreed to do the job, telling us it would be done by the following Tuesday. The quote was for a few thousand dollars, ouch!

On Monday the garage called to find out what I wanted to do, they didn’t realize the part would be another $800. The choice was a new used vehicle or have Tank fixed. I took a chance on Tank, a new vehicle just isn’t in the budget, and a new used vehicle has as much chance of having serious issues as does Tank. They told me Tank would be ready by yesterday.

Yesterday I heard nothing from them. Attila called them when he got home from work and they told him they just got the part, Tank won’t be ready until late Tuesday. I will believe that when I see it!

I am kinda grouchy as a result of all this virtual running around, with one foot nailed to the ground.

What to do?

Why do some canning of course! And cook some meals in the Instant Pot of course!

We got a hard frost last Thursday night, so the garden is done. Yesterday I spent a few hours picking all of the green tomatoes I could find, and folding up some of the plastic sheets that were used to protect the garden from frost. The yield was about 15 pounds of green tomatoes. There were many that would not ripen well indoors, these were chopped fine to be used in two new recipes: Green Tomato Mincemeat, and Pickled Sweet Green Tomato Relish.

Yesterday the first canning project was started, the Mincemeat. A recent gift from Attila made preparation relatively easy, an onion chopper, Prepworks by Progressive, which made chopping green tomatoes really easy. The tomatoes could be chopped in the food processor, but the resulting product is unevenly sized, whereas with the onion chopper the product is uniform in size. The Mincemeat had completed boiling for an hour and a half, just in time to turn the range off, put the lid on, and go to bed.

This morning the project resumed, and by 10:00 a.m. six half litre jars of canned Green Tomato Mincemeat were lined up on the counter. All of them sealed within minutes of removal from the steam canner.

The steam canner is amazing! No more hot water bath canning at Mist Cottage!

The afternoon was spent preparing dicing another 8 cups of green tomatoes, and two onions. They are soaking in pickling salt as I write, and at 7:30 p.m. I will be away from the computer for some time… the Sweet Green Tomato Relish will be in progress.

I hope it goes well, as my nosebleed began a few days after the heat was turned on in the house. Tonight as I was eating my dinner, another spontaneous nosebleed started, and recurs every time I move around. Attila might just have to assist with the Relish!



Date: 7:00 PM EDT Saturday 20 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Dew point: -1.8°C
Humidity: 47%
Wind: W 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
Chinese Proverb