Attila turned the heat on yesterday morning. After a chilly night, the indoor temperature had fallen to 18C, which is a little cooler than we like it, so the thermostat was set to 21C, and the heating season has begun.
I’ve been busy in the kitchen.
I was going to be spending a lot of time organizing the freezer. As usual plans change, a distraction appeared, in the form of a bushel of Northern Spy apples. Saturday was dreary, so after making a call to ensure availability, we took a drive out the apple ‘farm”. It was more like a carnival site than a farm. I grew up on a farm, and it was nothing like a producing enterprise. It was a “do-dad” store. Sure, there were bins and bushels of apples, at sky-high prices, but there was mostly astronomically priced goodies, that looked homemade, but probably were not. $10 for a small jar of jelly seems a little over the top, but people were lined up at the cash register, and most of the high-priced baked goods were gone. We looked around, inwardly gasping at the prices, then found what we were looking for, bushels of Northern Spy apples. The store owners were cunning. They gave the grade of their apples their own names, so they didn’t have to meet government grading standards. The told us we were buying their highest quality apples, at $27 a half bushel, $37 a bushel. Baloney. What we bought were seconds. The size ranged from 2 1/2 inches in diameter to 5 inches in diameter, there were significant blemishes (cosmetic) on many of the apples. A bushel of Northern Spy apples was purchased. Next autumn I will be looking for an alternative, and more honourable, source for my apples. Still, I was thrilled to get my favourite apples!
These are not first grade apples, these are seconds. The apple store claimed they were best grade apples, I would hate to see what their seconds looked like. Cunning avoidance of quality standards. Still, the blemishes aren’t a problem for my purposes, I just resent the top quality prices being demanded for lower grade produce. I will be trying to find another farm to deal with next year.
Since the apples were not number one grade, they needed to be processed sooner rather than later. So Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night, I got busy and made applesauce from the first half bushel. I removed the stems and blossom ends from the apples, quartered them, and filled the 16 quart stock pot, and a 6 quart stock pot. Northern Spy apples are very dense, as they cooked down, they became thicker and thicker, so more and more and more water was added, quarts of it, and still the applesauce was very, very thick. Late Saturday night, Attila helped by putting the cooked apples through the food mill, while I cleaned the equipment. Exhausted, we went to bed, leaving a clean kitchen and the 16 quart stock pot four fifths full of very thick strained applesauce.
As is often the case when I work late into the night, I don’t sleep very long. By 6:00 a.m. I was up and enjoying my morning coffee. 7:00 a.m. found me dressed, in my apron, heating up the applesauce, washing canning jars, and heating up the steam canner. By 10:30 eleven 1 litre jars of applesauce were lined up neatly on the countertop.
Just as a note to self, the applesauce was so thick that I added a can of apple juice to it to thin it down even more, and simmered it for ten minutes to prepare it for the canning jars. It was so thick that it was difficult to stir with a regular wooden spoon, so the recently purchased “canning paddle” (Canadian Tire) was christened, and it worked wonderfully.
This was the cooked Northern Spy apples, so thick you could stand a spoon up in them!
What was my rush to get the applesauce canned? We had other plans for Sunday!
Attila likes to sleep in, so that is what he did on Sunday morning, while I was canning in the kitchen. After he arose he began to organize tools and equipment, and to load the car. As soon as my jars were lined up neatly, and I had a little sit down after all my toiling, we were off to the Rideau Camp.
Lucky! The day was magnificent. Cloudy and sunny by turns, warm and cool by turns, it was a dry and rustley and colourful autumn day. There was much to do, to winterize Grace the Trailer, and get everything ship-shape for the coming cold weather.
When we arrived I made a beeline for the mouse trap inside Grace. Sure enough, there were two more mice in the bucket trap. Arghhhh! However, there were few droppings, so the cleanup was minimal. They were starting to build a nest in the sink drain, which was secure, chewed wood in the drain and underneath the drain. The mice are damaging something, but it isn’t evident just what. Two of the burners on the range no longer function, so I suspect they have been at the propane lines, I hope not, but it will need investigating. I HATE mice.
After taking the bucket trap out to Attila, who buried the mice in the bush, I moved the furniture around so that the slide could be retracted into the trailer. All of the bedding, and anything fabric, needed to be removed, and the lanterns and few remaining liquids, bleach and hydrogen peroxide. It didn’t take long. While I was setting Grace to rights, Attila started a camp fire, getting a good blaze going to build up some healthy embers for cooking.
We enjoyed the campfire tremendously. When the embers were just right, Attila cooked grilled cheese sandwiches over them, and we ate them hungrily, with homemade chili sauce on the side. This meal was so good! It was however, the entire sodium quota for the day, so nothing else containing sodium could be consumed for the rest of the day.
It was sad to pack up the Rideau Camp for the winter. We will be out there again though, if it can be managed. There are three newly dead elm trees that need to be felled, and it is best to do it when the leaves are off the trees, for better visibility.
When we arrived home I cooked a spaghetti dinner, using the very last jar of frozen spaghetti sauce from last year, while Attila picked the full-sized green tomatoes from the garden. The garden is still bringing on fruit, so it will be kept going, with frost covering at night, for as long as possible, to harvest as much as possible.
Full sized green tomatoes from the garden. On the left are San Marino, and on the right are Amish Paste and Health Kick (larger) tomatoes.
Yesterday it was back to the weekly routines.
Tank is having problems. I noticed it a few weeks ago, and then again last week when driving to the grocery store. A week ago I dropped into the garage we favour and made an appointment, to have Tank looked at, for last Friday. So I’ve been without a vehicle ever since. The upshot on Friday was that the job was too big for the mechanics setup, so another appointment was made for later this week at a different reputable garage. The problem has something to do with timing, and apparently the whole motor has to come out to replace the part, so the bill will be thousands of dollars. Sigh. Time to tighten our belts. Owning a vehicle is a constant source of expense, they aren’t free transportation by any means.
When it rains it pours of course.
Yesterday, as I was busy in the kitchen, I noticed the dehumidifier in the basement was making a very loud noise. An investigation resulted in shutting it down, and trying to remove the filter for cleaning. Eventually this was accomplished, when it thawed, it had been frozen in place. It was very dirty. After starting the dehumidifier up again, the problem persisted. Attila has determined that is in need of repair, and would like to tackle the job himself. I have no optimism about this, it will be time-consuming and is probably fruitless. In the meantime, the dehumidifier we had at the country house was pressed into service. It is beginning to smell musty down there, so the backup humidifier is not up to the job at hand. I see another big expense on the horizon! Actually, today will be research day, I won’t let this mustiness go on for very long, as I am the one who will be cleaning up mold and mildew, and prevention is more important to me than saving a bit of money trying to fix the old one.
The freezer organization project is not completely on hold. A bag of mystery frozen food was brought upstairs and investigated. The contents were, a pound of lard wrapped in foil, a plastic container of squash, suffering from some freeze drying, and two bags of mystery meat. The pound of lard went into the garbage, it was dried out. The plastic container of squash was placed in the freezer with the other containers of squash, and the mystery meat was put on a plate to thaw. The mystery meat ended up being sliced turkey breast and some small pieces of dark turkey meat.
The white meat was chopped, and went into the Instant Pot to become Sweet and Sour Turkey with Vegetables and Rice, and it was delicious. The dark meat was chopped and went into Attila’s turkey soup, which he made last night, using the carcass of the roast turkey enjoyed the weekend before last.
The vintage mystery food of the day today is a bag of frozen peas, a little worse for wear, and a container of homemade fallafels. Fallafels are on the menu for tonight or tomorrow night. The peas are awaiting the next Instant Pot meal.
Note to self. When salvaging vegetables with freezer burn and significant ice formation, place in colander and run under cold water until the ices has melted away, consume immediately.
Well that’s me. Not too exciting, I think it probably lives a lot better than it sounds.
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Tuesday 16 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Dew point: 2.1°C
Wind: W 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
1870 – 1952