Experimentation

When canning I seldom experiment beyond what sounds good to me. No failures to date, all the things I have canned we have loved, either as a food, or as an ingredient.

But all these Zucchini needed attention! Today!

I have enough relish, more than 24 jars, and only I eat it, so really, I don’t need more relish. So, I can afford to make a batch of relish a little differently. If I fail to produce something I like with this zucchini, well, it wouldn’t be the end of the world as I know it, now would it.

So I decided that this morning it was time to experiment with Liquid Stevia as an alternative to sugar in high-acid canning, relish in this case. I could have chosen pickles, but I prefer cucumbers for pickles, and I eat those raw as fast they are harvested. So relish it was. Liquid Stevia was substituted for the entire amount of sugar called for in the recipe: 2 1/4 cups of sugar translated into 2 1/4 teaspoons of Liquid Stevia. The Liquid Stevia was used in the recipe in the very same way that sugar would have been.

A few interesting things were noted. One is that the vinegar/stevia/herb mixture was not sticky, as it is with sugar. This meant that none of the herbs stuck to the sides of the pot during the cooking process. The other interesting thing is that Liquid Stevia does not cut the taste of acid the way sugar does, and that came as a surprise. The batch of relish was much tangier than those made with sugar.

All in all, the experiment could be considered a success. The taste is tangier, but that might be pleasant. All five jars sealed.

My other early morning project was to cook chick peas, one batch for hummus tonight, and three batches to be frozen for future hummus. Attila always feels wealthy when he has cooked beans, and chick peas, cooked and ready create his favourite second suppers.

In the early 70s I was teaching food science in the public school system in Toronto. One of the indulgences I gave myself was the purchase of a commercial grade Cuisinart food processor, the DLC-X. Well here I am, over 45 years later, and this appliance is still used three or more times per week. It has seen a lot of use! The appliance was made in Japan, but in the early 80s the company was sold, this appliance went out of production, and the quality of their food processors changed, not for the good. Replacement parts for the DLC-X appliance are no longer made.

A few months ago I noticed it was not working as well as it used to. I found that the plastic bowl, which I had replaced in the 1990s, had a broken piece. I thought that might be the problem, so began to search for a replacement bowl. I didn’t find one, I am still looking.

Then I happened to notice that the grips on the original chopping blade, where it attached to the base of the food processor, had worn away to almost nothing. Aha. I found a new blade, a company in Vancouver had a few of them left, so I ordered it. It was costly, $80, but you cannot buy a new food processor of this quality anywhere in the world, they just are not made anymore, so $80 seemed reasonable to keep the old girl going. And it works like a charm!

But now I am seeking the plastic parts for the DLC-X, wish me luck with that. Each model of the Cuisinart food processors has a unique sized bowl, so the bowls that look a bit the same won’t actually fit. It has to be exact model of bowl to fit the DLC-X. I have scoured the internet, and come up with an obscure, at least to me, company that seems to have some old stock, including the parts I want. It might be a web site that has not been updated. The big issue, if they actually do have the needed parts, is the cost. Well over $300, yikes. But we are considering it. This food processor has been in constant use for over 45 years, and I am sure that if we get new plastic accessories for it, it will serve another 45 years without any issues. And at my age, that means it will last me the rest of my life! Unless of course I become a contender for the book of world records for longevity.

Well, here it is, lunch time! What to have! I think raw diced cucumber and pepper rings, dipped in an onion and roasted pepper dip, would hit the spot!

Worldly

Weather

18°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 25 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 17.8°C
Dew point: 16.8°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: S 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
1850 – 1894

Nowhere more true than in politics.

Squirrels with Nuts

The first day of autumn, yesterday, was warm and sunny, a high of 24C here. Today it is hot and sunny, and humid. Not at all like autumn.

Attila is working on finishing the new storm door, which of course needed a frame built for it. Renovating an old house is full of unusual and interesting adjustments.

Here at Mist Cottage, we are like a couple of squirrels gathering nuts for the winter.

The garden loves this weather, and the harvest continues to be bountiful.

Today Attila harvested:

  • Cherry Tomatoes,
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes,
  • Black Russian Tomatoes,
  • Roma Tomatoes,
  • another variety that I haven’t poked around to see what the seeds said they were,
  • Scarlet Runner beans to eat,
  • Scarlet Runner Beans that had gone to seed for planting next spring
  • two large Zucchini
  • a quart of hot peppers, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Serrano, Habanero
  • a pint of Ground Cherries
  • one English Cucumber
Scraps in the steam juicer, on a hotplate, on the table, on the back porch. Also harvest bowls of Scarlet Runner Beans, Zucchini, Ground Cherries, Tomatoes, Tomatoes.

The tomatoes will go into the basement to finish ripening, then will be made into pizza sauce. The only other produce harvested in a quantity suitable for preservation are the zucchini, and I am thinking about what to do with the zucchini!

We went early to the grocery store to pick up a few supplies this morning. Oh dear, the Red Shepherd Peppers looked amazing, so I had to buy a second half bushel, I had roasted and frozen the first half bushel. Once I got it home I washed all of the peppers in a cold water and vinegar bath, then sliced half of them into strips, which I laid on a tray and placed in the freezer. The tray took up the last few available inches in the freezer!

With no more room in the freezer, I had to find some other way to preserve my peppers. I decided on pressure canning them in water, and after quartering them all, removing seeds and stems, I blanched them for three minutes, and drained and packed them into 500-ml canning jars. To each jar I added boiling water and one tablespoon of vinegar, then pressure canned them at 10 lb. for 35 minutes. I canned six jars of Red Shepherd peppers.

The Pressure Canner at 10 lbs. pressure, in 35 minutes the canned peppers will be done, the burner turned off, and the wait will begin for the gauge to fall back to zero pressure.
Six 500-ml jars of pressure canned Red Shepherd Peppers, all sealed. These will sit undisturbed until tomorrow morning, when I will remove the rings, wash the jars, write the contents and date on the lids, and carry these babies down to the basement to begin their new life on a dark shelf. I’ve not tried canning peppers before, so it will be a learning experience, and I hope we like them!

When we prepare all of this bounty for preservation, or right away for our meals, we save the scraps in one quart bags in the freezer. Today, with all of the red pepper scraps, I decided I had enough to justify a steam juicing session. I added the two quarts of pepper scraps, and six quarts of other vegetable scraps, to the the basket in the steam juicer. I set it up outside on the portable electric burner, where it steamed away for a few hours and produced about a quart of vegetable broth. The remaining scraps were cooled and added to the compost.

All of this food preservation going on, and apple season is just getting going! I will be canning apple pie filling and apple sauce when Northern Spy apples are available.

Yesterday though, we decided to take a break from our squirrelly ways. We took a drive out to the camp to check on things there. Everything looked fine, although we could tell someone had been on the property from the tire tracks they left. I guess they were just having a look, nothing had been interfered with.

I was thrilled that there was no sign of mice in Grace the trailer!!! Nothing in the trap, and no droppings anywhere. Wonderful.

We enjoyed the sunshine, the breezes, and the two deer that wandered by, paying little attention to us. I even saw the biggest millipede I have ever seen in my whole life, it must have been three inches long. Attila and I watched it as it made its way across the campfire area, and carried on into the bush.

Attila cut grass, and used a leaf blower to clear the driveway. He also applied spray foam to a few of the small openings we found on the underside of Grace the trailer. We keep trying to keep those critters out!

I burned brush. Since we were last there quite a few small branches had fallen out of the trees, so I gathered those up, and built a camp fire.

For our lunch, we roasted wieners over the coals, and enjoyed hot dogs on homemade bread, topped with garden tomatoes and Vidalia onions. We stayed until Attila began to feel hungry again, then off we into the sunset, home.

We had such a good time!

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 22 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.2°C
Dew point: 21.4°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: S 15 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
Henry Ford
1863 – 1947



Roasting Peppers

Who knew!

Well I did, really, but still, what a great discovery.

I knew that peppers could be roasted. My friend Joannie is a chef, and I had seen her roasting peppers over a gas burner, decades ago, then it was new information for me. I assumed I needed a gas burner to do it, and never thought about it again, until last week. Last week I bumped into a video that demonstrated roasting peppers in the oven. Well heck, I can do that!

Yesterday I purchased a half bushel of Red Shepherd Peppers, and went to work as soon as I got them home. I decided to roast only two pans of peppers, to see if I could do it, and if I could, to see if we liked them.

We don’t just like them, we LOVE them!

So this morning I am roasting the rest of the peppers. It will take two baking sessions, using four baking sheets. I am placing the peppers on silicone mats on the baking sheets, because the clean up is so very easy.

I got the instructions from a well researched, accountable web site called Healthy Canning. It has good, reliable, safe, tested, information, with specific instructions for roasting peppers here. If you are going to preserve food this is one of the good sites for information. Another is the National Centre for Home Food Preservation, all USDA tested recipes, and USDA recommended techniques. The NCHFP is affiliated with the University of Georgia and the USDA. Canada has very little to offer when it comes to home food preservation information, but the US information is available online, so that is what I follow. I don’t rely on youtube videos for anything but ideas when it comes to home food preservation. I rely on resources that take the consequences of the advice they give as their responsibility. Cooking, well the sky is the limit with creativity there, but not when it comes to food preservation, botulism kills.

I have chosen to freeze the roasted peppers, rather than can them. I freeze them on cookie sheets, on waxed paper, then place wax paper between the frozen peppers and freeze them in heavy plastic bags. It is a time consuming operation, but I anticipate we are going to really enjoy the flavour kick these peppers will provide this winter!

So that is what I do for a good time on a long weekend at the end of the summer. I am also canning a lot. I canned 5 jars of tomato sauce yesterday, and five jars of zucchini relish. The zucchini relish will not last long, as I’ve discovered it gives a real flavour kick to sandwiches, and on meats etc., which is particularly appealing since I don’t use any salt at the table, or in cooking. And I don’t use salty condiments like mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, etc. No no-sodium relish is something I will really appreciate. Today I am also canning more Cherry Bomb Tomatoes, to make two dozen jars for Attila.

Attila is out in the garden. I don’t really know what he is doing out there, but I do know I like it. Every day he brings in bowls of food for me to preserve, and for our dinner. So whatever it is he is spending his time doing out there, it is time well spent. Attila loves his garden. My raised beds get a little bit of attention from him, he waters them for me when he waters the gardens, but all the rest is his playground.

And here we are, the first day of September already. And all of my windows are open. A beautiful day!

Worldly

Weather

20°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 1 September 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.6°C
Dew point: 13.3°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: SSE 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.”
George Bernard Shaw
1856 – 1950

I think politicians have disproved this.

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