First Frost

First Frost

Attila struggles with his health issue where he works, at the best of times. The heat is extreme year round, 40C or hotter, particularly where he has to perform his tasks. He had been slowly wearing himself out on the job, recovering as much as possible on weekends. But with the present Pandemic, he has been wearing a mask all day in the heat and humidity… his condition is worsening quickly. Apparently the authorities have decided that his condition is not adversely affected by wearing a mask, based one one study on surgeons with his condition, who were able to function normally while working for long hours in the climate controlled operating room, while wearing a mask. OK, I get that, but operating room are climate controlled. Surgeons aren’t using their whole bodies to perform strenuous physical activity. This condition is made much worse by heat, particularly humid heat, the kind of heat Attila works in. Basing the assessment of Attila’s health risks on unrelated ideal, climate controlled conditions, is criminal in my opinion, it is crass, and shows complete disregard for science and for workers, who aren’t working as surgeons in climate controlled operating rooms. The stupidity and inflexibility of the authorities, in so many situations during this Pandemic, is disturbing. So Attila’s condition has deteriorated now to the point where he is on a short medical leave to try and reestablish his health.

There are additional reasons for concern at the weakening of Attila’s health. There are people where he works who are not wearing masks properly, pulled down off their face, or worn under their noses, or in some instances not worn at all. He is in no condition to be exposed to people who are not respecting the guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing.

At least we have a week or so free of worry, which is welcome since the cases of COVID in Ontario are going up, as are the number of cases in this municipality. Then it will be back to constant worry, that his health issue will be irreparably worsened from wearing the mask in hot and humid conditions, and that he might come into contact with a COVID spreader.

Well that is us in the larger context.

The domestic side of life is bustling with activity. Every day there are several food preservation projects on the go. This morning it was canning Cowboy Candy, and pureeing tomatoes for canning. The tomatoes yielded only two jars, not quite enough to justify loading up the canner, so they are in the refrigerator until a few more tomatoes ripen, and we have more jars to fill.

There hasn’t been much opportunity to cook these past few weeks, cooking seems recreational at this point. I have made a few efforts though, just for fun. The Pita bread that was made here in the spring was too thick, and the technique so fussy, that it didn’t seem worth the time and effort. Naan bread seemed like a possible alternative to Pita Bread. The first batch of Naan was made using baking powder instead of yeast. It was good, but not great. The second batch of Naan was made with yeast, it was good, but there were real issues with the bread burning. More research was conducted. The third batch of Naan was lovely, evenly cooked, good colour, slightly chewy. The recipes call for the cast iron frying pan to be heated to a medium high temperature, which burned the Naan. What worked was a preheated cast iron pan at medium low temperature (3.5/10 on my dial). The other thing that significantly improved the Naan was being rolled thinner than was possible with the normal rolling pin. I inquired of Attila if we had some doweling in the garage that I might use, and he found a piece, cut it to about 8 inches in length. After being sanded and oiled, it worked like a charm. So Naan bread is going to be a big part of our diet from now on.

The Naan bread was served with two meals, both were soups made from fresh garden vegetables. The first soup was Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup, we liked it a lot, I didn’t write down how I made it though, I know I will regret that. The second was a Squash Ginger Soup, which was also delicious served with Naan bread. Cooking these meals was lots of fun, and a real break from the intense regime of food preservation projects.

We had our first frost on Sunday night. The garden had not been covered that night, to protect it from the frost. I was alarmed to see the frost on the roof of the house next door, as the day dawned. Luckily there was no sign of any frost damage in the garden, it must have missed us by a few feet.

It is the time of year when harvesting slows down. Over half of the Tomatoes are in and canned; most of the Scarlet Runner Beans have been frozen; all of the Cucumbers made into Dill Slices; most of the Zucchini canned as Zucchini-Pineapple; two of the three Pie Pumpkins have been brought in; many of the Ground Cherries have ripened and fallen; most of the Basil has been gathered for Pesto; a good percentage of the Hot Peppers are pickled or candied; and most of the Swiss Chard has been frozen. Still to come are the Brussel Sprouts, the Winter Cabbages, late Peas, and Squash. We have a bumper crop of Squash again this year, all Butternut Squash, as the Blue Hubbard died during the heat of June and July.

Stay safe dear friends!!

The second batch of Swiss Chard, blanched, weighed, and ready to be bagged and labelled for the freezer.
Last fall we purchased a Pie Pumpkin. My oh my it was nice! So the seeds were saved, planted in May, and here are two of three They are so cute!
Crabapples! Picked from the new tree in the front yard, this is the whole crop. When the Ash tree died some small trees sprang up around the stump. This Crabapple tree was one of those little trees. It is much taller now, and this is the first year that there were Crabapples to harvest.
The Crabapples are fermenting, to eventually become Apple Cider Vinegar. In two weeks the fruit will be strained out, and the remaining Apple Cider set in the cupboard to become vinegar.



Date: 4:00 PM EDT Thursday 17 September 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 16.9°C
Dew point: 8.9°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: NNW 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi
1869 – 1948


  1. Margarett

    Hello again, Maggie and all….my procedure went fine. He was only able to work on the 4 lower discs in my lower back…usually they only do 3. Will return in 1 month to do the left. But, I guess they used more steroids than usual, because I am so wired I haven’t been able to go to the grand sleep that I usually am able to do.
    Now…from your friend from the great state of TEXAS! What in the heck is Switchel? And, what is Kohlrabi? I prefer your answers to GOOGLE on the “ inter-tube!!!
    I am feeling really like a goof ball, that I will catch you, again, later. xxoo…m

  2. Margarett, so glad to hear your procedure went well! Hope you can rest soon.

    Switchel, also called Haymaker’s Punch, is an old world beverage made with Apple Cider Vinegar, and Ginger for flavour. Sometimes it is fermented, sometimes it isn’t. I don’t ferment ours, but mix Apple Cider Vinegar, honey, fresh diced ginger, and filtered water together, then chill. Attila drinks it with plain sugar free soda, he loves it. I don’t care for it 🙂
    Kohlrabi is a new discovery for us. We ordered seeds and got a free packet with the order, Kohlrabi seeds. We planted them in the spring and fell in love with them. They are sometimes called a German Turnip. Kind of a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, a kind of turnip like bulb with a few big stems and leaves coming out of the bulb, The whole thing is edible, except the peel on the bulb, they are mild in taste. The leaves are so tough it is challenging to work with them, I certainly would not choose them as a green, but dehydrated they are a great ingredient in green powders. We love to cook them with potatoes in the Instant Pot, then mash them with the potatoes. There are none available in the stores here, so we will have to wait until next year to have them again.
    Stay safe dear friend!!

  3. Sandy

    Hi Maggie. I really hope Attila’s health improves while he’s off from work. Is there any chance that a doctor could intervene with a statement that between the mask, heat, and humidity, Attila’s health is being harmed? Then he could go on long-term disability? Or maybe they could move him to a different job?

    You really had a bountiful harvest. I’ve never seen Kohlrabi either.

    Hi Margarett. Welcome back! I’m glad your procedure went well and hope you feel better:)

  4. Hi Sandy, thank you for the good wishes! The Nurse Practioner, we were not able to get a doctor, has allowed Attila this short time to rest and recoup. Disability here would depend on accepted practice, and the powers that be have decided that the study on surgeons is applicable to all situations, according to our health care provider. A different job is a possibility, we will have to wait and see how this plays out. Things change so fast with this Pandemic!
    I had not seen a Kohlrabi before it was grown in our garden. I love them mashed with potatoes. They are a very odd looking plant. We planted some a few weeks ago and have our fingers crossed we get a second harvest before the snow flies, not likely, but we are attempting it.
    Stay safe dear friend!

  5. And we have just had our first over 20°c……such a lovely warm(ish) day. Back to teens with a promise of higher again in a couple of days
    Will you be able to use the crabapple fruit for anything after you strain the liquid off (to become apple cider vinegar)

  6. Cathy, enjoy the improving weather, it sounds lovely!
    That is a good question, about using the crabapple fruit after fermenting. It has been going into the composter, which is a form of using the fruit, much delayed as it morphs into fertile soil, which then provides us with another garden delight. But I had not thought about trying to use it. The peel and pits are in the jar, they would have to be removed, but now I am thinking of putting the fermented fruit through a seive, adding sugar, and dehydrating it, worth a try! Thanks!

  7. That sounds like awful working conditions! I’d opt for retirement, or at least a different job. But I know you may not feel you have that option. I don’t think I’d care for “switchel”, either.

    Anyway, best possible health to both of you and enjoy your veggies!

  8. Joan, the working conditions are awful for Attila’s job. We are considering retirement for him, but there would be no pension, no financial support, we would definitely be struggling financially, but he would be healthier, and perhaps live longer, so it is a big dicision. It is difficult to know what to do, no easy answers, but we will figure it out eventually. Switchel isn’t enjoyed by everyone, we are in the same boat. I think it might be refreshing if one was working out in the hot sun all day, harvesting hay with a scythe!
    We are enjoying the veggies! Frost again tonight they say, Attila has the back yard covered in plastic sheets, it looks like Halloween out there, lol. Hopefully the plastic will prevent frost damage, and the garden will keep producing.
    Stay safe dear friend!
    Stay safe dear friend!

  9. Bex Crowell

    I’d always heard of Kohlrabi but not the rest of it. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten it though.
    I would think Attila would do better in a job like a librarian or something… quiet and alone! I hope he doesn’t have the Covid…has he been tested at all? That workplace of his is a hotbed for spread of it. Such a constant worry!!! At least you are saving lots of $$ on all your garden produce. Those masks are not fun to wear. We had a guest here yesterday for only an hour and Paul and I both wore our masks (as did Margaret) the whole time and by the time she left I felt like I was drowning! I hate them! I need cool air around me to feel normal and masks just don’t allow for that. Ugh. These troubling times… and now SCJ Ginsburg has passed away so the evil ones in D.C. will be at their evil ways again and stacking the Court. More ugh.

  10. Bex, like you I was aware of Kohlrabi, but had not tasted it. If we had not received that free sample packet of seeds I might have gone through life not having tasted it. What a lucky instance that we got those seeds!
    Thanks for your thoughts about Attila and employment, we are cetainly discussing lots of scenarios. Things change so quickly though, so whatever happens, decisions will be made quickly with the most information we can gather at the time.
    This is the fifth day Attila has been at home, and no symptoms yet, so we are hoping he is free and clear of the virus. At present there are no known cases where he works, so it seems unlikely that he would have caught it, or it caught him more like. I have come up with a plan on how we can cope with only one of us having the virus, and still stay home together, I hope we never have to test the plan!
    The garden! We are so very lucky to have had a plentiful harvest this year!
    Masks are uncomfortable, and I think people are a lot more irritable for wearing them. I don’t like them one bit, and luckily I can stay home where I don’t need one.
    I truly feel concern and sadness at the dire political issues being played out in the USA (and in other countries such as Sweden where they euthanize COVID patients over 65). I hope that the pendulum swings the other way soon, and the human population on planet earth gets their act together!
    Stay safe dear friend!

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