This summer has been so very hot and humid. Today is cooler, the humidex will be 30C, yesterday it was 40C. When the humidex is 40 I find breathing challenging, and so I am extremely grateful for the ground source heat pump, which keeps the indoor temperature at 23C, with reasonable humidity. This is particularly important because I am working on my feet from first light to last light every day.
It is harvest season. The harvest arrived late this year, and it has been less bountiful than other years. The heat, and the dry conditions mean that our yields are less, and that circubits have done very poorly indeed this year. We have had very few Cucumbers develop and/or ripen. None of our Squash plants produced any fruit. Our Melons are the size of baseballs. There are three very small pie Pumpkins, one of which was almost ripe but attacked by insects.
The Brussel Sprouts have done very poorly so far, but Attila remains optimistic that they will rally when the weather turns cooler. The Zucchini plants died.
The garden has given us a first crop of lovely Cabbages, Scarlet Runner Beans, Tomatoes (bumper crop), Kohlrabi, Peas, Lettuce, Spinach, Beets, Hot and Sweet Peppers, Garlic, Swiss Chard, Basil, and Kale. There have been some Ground Cherries, and Tomatilloes.
I have been busy non-stop in the kitchen putting all this food by for the winter months. I am preserving every last ounce of produce, in anticipation of food prices going up significantly. Our income will not increase, and it offers little margin for comfortable adjustments. So I am making the most of what we have.
A few weeks ago Attila and I were out for a walk, and were pleasantly surprised that one of the neighbours had put out a box of surplus cucumbers from their garden. We had a lovely chat, then their grandchidren fetched us some plastic bags in which to tote away the cucumbers. Those cucumbers resulted in a dozen jars of Dill Chunk Pickles. The Cucumbers were too large to pickle in slices, so I cut them in chunks, a less than perfect shape for pickles, but it is what we had access to.
I have been busy canning, and even had to purchase more jars! Mostly it has been pickling, Dilly Beans, Pickled Serrano Peppers, Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers, and Cowboy Candy (Sweet Pickled Jalapeno Peppers).
Tomatoes are being simmered down into Pizza Sauce. This is a very big job. First the tomatoes are washed, rinsed in vinegar, then rinsed in cold water. Then the stems are removed, and the skins sliced into 1/4 inch squares. These are placed in the food processor and processed for two minutes to cut the skins into tiny edible and digestible pieces. Batch after batch is added to the 16 quart stock pot, along with onions, garden garlic, celery, herbs, and spices. The mixture is simmered for hours until it is thick and rich, cooled, and then ladelled into clean plastic tubs (recycled and clean). Lids and labels are applied. Into the freezer they go. So far we have frozen 30 tubs of pizza sauce, not quite enough to get us through until the next tomato harvest in 2022. There are still baskets of Tomatoes coming in from the garden, so our goal of 40 tubs of pizza sauce will be easily reached. Then I will begin to can tomatoes in quart jars.
To date I have frozen a dozen and half servings of Pesto, using our organic garden Basil. I freeze the Pesto in paper muffin cups placed in a muffin pan, which is placed in the freezer. When they are frozen they are transferred into a plastic bag and sealed. This makes it quite easy to remove a single muffin cup for a meal.
We grew a lot of Kohlrabi this year, to my great delight. We cook it with Potatoes in the Instant Pot, then mash them. It is a tasty combination. But we have far more Kohlrabi than we can eat at the moment, so large Kohlrabi were peeled, diced, and frozen in eight packages, each of which will be adequate for one meal. Attila did a second planting of Kohlrabi, so there is more to come, yay!
We are enjoying Toasted Tomato and Bacon Sandwiches while the garden Tomatoes are in season. Attila is taking his few vacation days to work in the garden. Since these days represent his vacation, we are indulging in some unhealty but much loved foods, so bacon is being enjoyed in our sandwiches. It is such a treat. I am eating Toasted Tomato Sandwiches every day while Attila is at work, but I skip the bacon, as it isn’t good for me, and I don’t really miss it since the sandwiches are so good.
The little Pumpkin that had been attacked by insects was salvageable in part. After removing the damaged sections, and the seeds, the Pumpkin was cooked in the Instant Pot, pureed, then used as the main ingredient for Pumpkin Spice Muffins.
The past weekend was very, very busy. On Friday Attila was on a vacation day. We used the day to travel to all the places that supply items we buy in bulk, such as wheat berries, walnuts, bread flour, molasses, etc. It was a lot of driving, and we were both tired at the end of the day. It was a satisfied tired though.
I had not entered a retail or wholesale establishment since August of last year, on a similar outing to obtain wheat berries for milling flour. We took all precautions, social distanced, masked, and sprayed all items with hydrogen peroxide, and our hands and clothing as well. It was a lot less stressful than the 2020 excursion, because we have been fully vaccinated and are unlikely to die if we contract the coronavirus.
Saturday was spent canning. Four different recipes were canned; Pickled Serrano Peppers, Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers, Dill Pickles, and Cowboy Candy. It was only 16 jars, but a lot of work since each recipe required a different technique, and a different brine. The second harvest of Parsley was dehydrated, the leaves crumbled, the stems powdered, and then stored in labelled mason jars. I also baked a loaf of bread, and a dozen Pumpkin Spice muffins. This was an exhausting day!
Sunday was another Tomato processing day. There were a lot of follow up tasks after Saturday’s canning. Removing, washing, drying, and storing the rings, washing each jar, labelling each jar, then finding a place to store each jar.
Preserving food involves a lot of management: of the ingredients; the recipes; the equipment; the containers be they plastic bags, plastic tubs, or canning jars; and the storage. Attila usually provides the ingredients from the garden, and I take care of everything else.
The weekend before last we managed to visit the Camp for a day. Attila is busy at the Camp spraying Gypsy Moth eggs, in hopes of lessening the infestation. Some of the trees, mostly Oaks, had put out a second set of small leaves, and hopefully they will survive. I spent my time collecting dead wood around the clearing, and burning it in the Camp Fire Pit. It was a hot day, but there was a breeze, and still enough shade from the unaffected trees to provide a comfortable shade.
My big project at the Camp was to find Staghorn Sumac to harvest. I found some on our property, which was very difficult to reach, there was rock climbing involved. I was very careful though, and managed to cut enough fruit to dehydrate. However, to my great disappointment, I was too late. The fruit was just too full of worms to be used as food. I need to harvest the fruit earlier in the summer, when it first ripens, and before the worms have established themselves so intensely. Suma Jelly is delicious, but there won’t be any this year.
Attila is growing a little garden out at the Camp. It is only watered when we visit, so not often enough, but is still managing to produce a few Tomatoes. There are Squash planted as well, but they are not being pollinated. We need some flowers! Perhaps some Zinneas, they seem to grow well without a lot of attention.
I haven’t been on the computer all that much since harvest season kicked into high gear. Sometimes I go the whole day only sitting down for a few breaks of about 10 to 15 minutes, to eat or drink. I am “making hay while the sun shines”.
Updated on Mon, Aug 30, 11:35 AM
FEELS LIKE 32
Wind 18 W km/h
Humidity 43 %
Visibility 28 km
Sunrise 6:28 AM
Wind gust 27 km/h
Pressure 100.8 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 7:48 PM
Slight not what’s near, while aiming at what’s far.
484 BC – 406 BC