Still Moving In!

When we moved to Mist Cottage, just over three years ago, we were overwhelmed by possessions.  What comfortably furnished an 1800 square foot home did not fit comfortably into an already fully furnished 640 square foot home. Boxes were stacked to the ceiling, and tunnels through them led to the kitchen, the bathroom and the beds.

We have come a long way since that week of moving our household.  Much was given to Terra and Lares, a custom-made pine dining set, an antique oak dresser… Much was given to the local Women’s Shelter, and Men’s Shelter, dishes, two television sets, clothing and much, much more… Some things were given away via kijiji.  Other items were sold via kijiji.  I discovered I do not like selling via kijiji, finding a meeting place to exchange money for items, or having people pick things up at the house… nope, I don’t like that much.

Because Mist Cottage was already a fully functioning home, fully furnished, supplied with food, and the necessities of day-to-day life, we had duplicates of just about everything.  Three years later we are just about through either using the duplicates (e.g. two jars of mustard), or finding a new home for one of the two items.

The second phase of moving in is just beginning. There was a missing link when we arrived three years ago, the garage.  It leaked, badly, so that things that would normally be stored there were stacked in the basement.  Attila replaced the garage roof with a spiffy new metal roof, which does not leak.  The garage is now dry.  Attila is slowly going through items, sorting and deciding what can go where.  It is going to take a good long time for that project to be finished.

Other things crop up that get in the way of the garage organization being tackled full steam ahead.  For instance, Thanksgiving weekend saw Attila working on some of the last touches on the bathroom renovation, which began in 2013, five years ago, so it is time!  The work that was holding him up was drywall mudding and painting, which needed an open window and the furnace shut down.  At last, the time and the opportunity to work on the bathroom occurred this past weekend.  Now all that remains is the last piece of baseboard… it was cut and ready in 2013, but has since gone missing.  Attila says he is looking for it… I think I might have push a bit on this last bit, perhaps go out and buy additional baseboard to get the job done.

On my end, the freezer situation is being taken in hand.  It is a slow process, defrosting, cleaning, and organizing freezers.  I keep running into vintage food, and attempting to cook it as soon as I discover it.  Since the Thanksgiving turkey dinner will provide leftovers until the weekend, there is no need to cook meals.  This week the vintage food found in the freezer cannot be made into meals.  What to do!

Canning!

Several bags of fruit did not weather the move well.  They had thawed slightly and then iced badly over the last three years.  There was one bag of chopped strawberries, and one bag of diced rhubarb.  After removing the ice, into the pot they went, combined with sugar, and were stewed together to make stewed rhubarb and strawberries.  The mixture, when cooked, filled two and half mason jars.  The two full jars were canned in the steam canner, for 15 minutes.  The half mason jar went into the refrigerator, to enjoy for the rest of the week.

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Wednesday 10 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 21.5°C
Dew point: 19.4°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: SSW 9 km/h
Humidex: 29
Visibility: 24 km

The weather is crazy! Yesterday the humidex was well over 30C, and today it was just a high. The air conditioning is turned on, to reduce the humidity in the house, in October! The garden likes this weather, more tomatoes, peppers, and beans coming on.

Quote

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”
George Bernard Shaw
1856 – 1950

Thanksgiving

It is a long weekend this weekend, Monday is the Canadian Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends!

Attila has been out and about, actually taking the old, completely destroyed, metal eavestroughs, that have been sitting under the back porch since we bought the house, well since the rotted wood they were attached too fell off the house just after we bought it.  They were/are an eyesore, and since Mist Cottage has come so far along with the exterior renovations, they don’t have any further purpose.  Attila would like to buy new eavestrough for the entire house, when the back porch is renovated, the new metal roof has been installed, and the new siding is installed.  Well, all of that renovating might never happen, none of those projects are a priority, and all of them will cost a small fortune.  So for the forseeable future, Mist Cottage will be getting along without eavestroughs.  The bright side of that is that they won’t need to be cleaned!

I have contacted an individual through social media, who would be glad to receive my old, well-kept hot water bath canner.  There is no room for it here, as all of my high acid food canning will now be done with the new steam canner.  It would be nice if this gifting worked out, but as with anything in life, it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.  Where did that saying come from!?  Wikipedia say it started with sport writer Dan Cook, who said “the opera ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”, in a 1978 Newscast. It is a good concept, that you don’t really know how things will turn out until they turn out.

Attila is busy in the kitchen, after having arrived back from the dump, and is rustling up a turkey dinner for a Thanksgiving dinner today. Breakfast, and lunch have consisted of leftovers, in an attempt to clear space in the refrigerator for the treasured leftovers after the meal. Meanwhile, in a distant kitchen, a meal is being prepared by Sister-The-Youngest-Girl, to celebrate not only Thanksgiving, but her birthday, and a special birthday for Sister-The-Middle-Girl, who also has a birthday and is turning 65, becoming a bonafida senior citizen.  I can imagine them all together, working on a jigsaw puzzle, as we have done many times, having a wonderful day.

Secret confession, I ate an early breakfast while Attila was still sleeping. I made Pumpkin Squares last night, for the Thanksgiving dinner today. Last night I thought about having a slice, but decided against it as it was nearly bedtime. This morning however, no such consideration had to be taken into account, so I cut myself a generous slice and enjoyed it with my morning cup of coffee. My leftover breakfast, later in the morning, was my second breakfast! The leftover breakfast was a smoothie, consisting of a banana, the last bit of homemade applesauce that was in a jar in the refrigerator, the last little bit of Crabapple Jelly foam leftover from jelly making yesterday, and bit of lactose-free milk. It was very good, and I felt I had honoured myself by eating a few helpings of fruit.

All of the canning equipment has been washed, dried and carefully stored away in the basement. It needed to be out-of-the-way since Attila needs a clean kitchen to do his magic with the turkey dinner. I contented myself this morning with testing the seals, wiping, drying, labelling, packing in a box, and conveying of my 9 jars of Crabapple Jelly to a sturdy shelf in the basement.

If boredom finds me today, I’ll work on organizing the freezers. It might happen, then again, I might just get back to the crocheted blanket that is in progress. There are so many interesting things to do! My life is very, very small… but to me it feels very, very full, and very, very satisfying. I think there is greatness in smallness.

Worldly

Weather

10°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 6 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 9.6°C
Dew point: 9.6°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: NE 8 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.”
Epictetus
55 AD – 135 AD

Pressure Canner: Tomatoes 2018

Another info-note to self about my canned tomatoes.

Three dozen jars of tomatoes were canned in September 2018.  The first two batches were Roma tomatoes purchased from first NoFrills in a 20 pound box for $7,99, then a second box was purchased from Metro in a 25 pound box for $8.00.  The third batch was canned in two sessions on September 26th and 27th using garden tomatoes: Pink Girl; San Marino; Health Kick; and Amish paste tomatoes.

Tomato preparation:

The Roma tomatoes were washed and the stem ends removed.  They were placed whole in a 16 quart stock pot, then brought to a boil and simmered until stewed.  Then they were processed through the Cuisinart manual food mill, using the largest size sieve plate.

The garden tomatoes were frozen whole as they ripened, stems removed.  The frozen tomatoes were placed in a 16 quart stock pot with 1/2 cup of water, set on a low heat until they began to thaw and soften.  The tomatoes were stewed at a low heat.  Then they were processed through teh Cuisinart manual food mill, using the smallest size sieve plate.  This size was used because of the minute size of the tomato seeds in the Amish Paste tomatoes.

Jarring the tomatoes for canning:

The Roma tomatoes from NoFrills were canned using 4 tablespoons of vinegar per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

The Roma tomatoes from Metro were canned using 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

The garden tomatoes were canned using 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

Pressure Canning:

The jars of tomatoes were canned in the pressure canner for 15 minutes at 11 pounts pressure. The All American pressure canner was set on the electric coil burner at 6/10 heat until pressure was reached, then the heat was reduced to 5.5/10 for 15 minutes of canning timed when pressure was reached.

Steam Canner

Victorio Steam Canner VKP1054

This is the Steam Canner I purchased. It can only be used on coil electric, or gas burners, no flat top. There is another model they sell, suitable for flat top stoves, but not this one.

This entry is mostly an info-note to self about my new steam canner.

When I tested it, as suggested in the manual, by canning four 1 litre jars filled with hot water, and watching the gauge, one of the jars cracked on the bottom. I began at a 6/10 heat on my burner, I never go higher than 7/10 because my pots are heavy and don’t need a higher heat, nor do they benefit from a higher heat. I waited until the lid rumbled a bit and steam forced it up a bit, then checked the gauge reading, lowering the heat to 4.5/10, which provided a full rolling boil and a steady, strong stream of steam. I thought that perhaps a bit higher heat was desirable.

When I made my first batch of Crabapple Jelly, two 500 ml jars, I heated the water in the canner to a boil, added the jars, then turned the heat down to 4.5/10. This was again, a full rolling boil. Only one of the two jars sealed.

When I made Crabapple Jelly this morning, eight 500 lm jars, I heated the water in the canner slowly at 3.5/10, added the jars, left the stove temperature at 3.5/10, waited until the gauge indicated it was up to heat, then set the timer. After waiting five minutes after the heat was turned off, the jars were removed from the canner and set out on a towel on the counter. Within five minutes the first five jars sealed, after fifteen minutes one more sealed, and within a half an hour the last two sealed.

My conclusion is that on this stove, I will preheat the canner at 3.5/10 heat, and leave the stove at that temperature for the entire canning process. The reading on the gauge need only come as far as my elevation minimum, no more. I am 278 feet above sea level here, so these are the settings that I will use going forward, with this canner, for this location, and on this stove.

The Crabapple Jelly is delicious. The Crabapple Jelly recipe used is from the National Centre for Home Food Preservation, but I made one change. Instead of processing for 5 minutes, I processed for 10 minutes. The reason I did this is that jars would need to be sterilized for processing times under 10 minutes, so by processing for 10 minutes I was able to eliminate the extra step of sterilizing the jars and lids.

The end result was:
9 full, sealed 500 ml jars of Crabapple Jelly;
1 full unsealed 500 ml jar of Crabapple Jelly;
1 partially full 500 ml jar containing the last dribbles of the first and the the second batch;
1 cereal bowl of sweet foam, skimmed from the top of the boiling jelly;
1 peanut butter and jelly foam sandwich, down the hatch, yum!

Worldly

Weather

8°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Friday 5 October 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 8.4°C
Dew point: 0.3°C
Humidity: 57%
Wind: NE 15 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Yay, no frost here last night! The garden will keep going for a few more weeks, so more tomatoes, peppers, basil, and beans on the way!

Quote

“Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.”
Evan Esar
1899 – 1995

This was meant to be amusing, and it would be, if it weren’t true. GIGO

Treating Ourselves

a bowl of crabapples

Crabapples from the back yard. They are small and hard and tart, tart, tart. They have many blemishes, and a few bugs. Most of the bugs float away when they are washed, I don’t worry much about bugs. The blossom ends were cut off, and the whole apple, stems and all, were added to the pot, to be boiled for several hours until all the flesh from the apples dissolved. These Crabapple are on our property and have not been fertilized, or sprayed with insecticide, or paid any attention whatsoever. since we bought the property in 2010. I consider them organic, non-gmo, and pretty darn healthy.

The second batch of crabapples are boiling on the stove. This week was a busy one! There is a volunteer apple tree in the back yard at Mist Cottage. It is probably a crabapple tree, the apples are about half an inch to an inch in diameter. Attila figures they would be much larger if the tree were pruned, which is hasn’t been, ever. Two quarts of the apples were boiled this past week, the pulp strained through a clean cotton cloth, and the juice made into jelly. Two 500 ml jars of jelly were the result. The only ingredients were the crabapple juice and sugar. The jelly set well, and it is delicious, just like my Granny used to make. This evening Attila picked about four more quarts of crabapples, they are on the boil right now.

Since we spent our vacation working away on our projects here at Mist Cottage, we decided that it would be appropriate to treat ourselves to a new chest freezer. It arrived last week. Of course it was yet another dominoes situation. The wall against which it was to be placed was bare concrete, with a studs framed-in over it. I decided I wanted it insulated before placing the freezer there. Attila volunteered to do the work, insulating with Roxul, then sealing it with vapour barrier and tape. He got that done the day before the freezer arrived.

The freezer delivery was interesting. It barely fit through the doors, and the delivery fellows decided the doors had to be removed to get it into the house. Myself, and Attila, both feel it would have come in without taking the doors off, but these fellows had their heart set on taking them off, so off they came. Then the fellows felt the flashing around the exterior door should be removed. I grabbed Attila’s tool bag, found a screwdriver and removed the flashing for them, and put it back on again after they got the freezer into the house. They set the freezer up, installing the casters at my request, the casters were optional, so I felt they were good sports to install the casters for me. It was a hot, humid day, so I made sure they had cold beverages in their hands as I waved them goodbye.

Organizing the freezers is now my domain. Attila has always wanted to do it, has always done it, but I decided I want to do it, and he decided that maybe that would work. I am much more organized than is Attila, and am now on a mission to organize the frozen food. It is slow going! When we moved in just over three years ago the frozen food was hurriedly stuffed into the freezers, after having been transported via a five-hour truck ride. The frozen food has remained a disorganized jumble since the move.

As vintage food reveals itself during the sorting process, I use it. Two bags of tomatoes were unearthed, frozen who knows when, which were immediately stewed and went into a spaghetti dinner. A bag of chopped turkey of unknown vintage was the main ingredient for an Instant Pot meal of Mongolian Turkey. So far only a container of navy beans has been lost, it must have thawed more than was good for it. And so it has been going. It was moving along slowly but surely, until I became enamored with making Crabapple Jelly

The other addition to our kitchen is a steam canner. After seeing one demonstrated on YouTube, I did some research. They weren’t recommended by the USDA when I bought my hot water bath canner, but only because they had not been tested and their safety was unverified. Testing was conducted and the findings published in 2015, now they are approved by the USDA. I’ve always used hot water bath canning for high acid foods, but I feel steam canning is a more practical way to do the job. So in addition to the freezer, we purchased a steam canner.

I am now climbing the learning curve with the steam canner. It arrived yesterday. The first step was to wash it. The next step was to test the gauge, by canning four one-litre jars of water. To my surprise, I lost my very first canning jar, one of them cracked! It didn’t shatter, held the boiling water until I could get it to the sink, and was still hanging together when I placed it in the recycling bin.

Today I made the first batch of Crabapple Jelly, two jars. Only one of the jars sealed! This is not a problem I have ever had before, so it is surprising. I cannot account for the failure. It doesn’t matter so much in the case of the jelly, because it will be consumed soon enough, jelly keeps quite well in the refrigerator. I will be making another batch of Crabapple Jelly in the next day or so, and it will be interesting to see if I get good seals with my jars in the steam canner.

This morning was cold and dreary, raining off and on. And then the sun came out and the day transformed. It was warm and lovely. Oh how nice it would have been to have had a few days like this over the summer! There is a frost warning for tonight though, so the beans, peppers, basil, nasturtiums, marigolds, and tomatoes are all covered with plastic sheets for the night. Fingers crossed that we don’t get frost!  Or if we do, that the plastic sheets do their magic!

Worldly

Weather

15°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Thursday 4 October 2018
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 14.7°C
Dew point: 7.0°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: NNW 15 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
Tonight: Low zero with patchy frost.

Quote

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000