Full House

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Autumn!

Yesterday we were out at the Camp for a few hours. What a beautiful day it was! Attila brought his chain saw and managed to get two of the many dead trees out. But the recent rains brought water back to the swamp, so many dead trees remain to be removed at another time. Grace the trailer was closed up for the winter, and happily there was no sign of mice inside. The mouse trap will be left operational for the winter, using plumber’s anti-freeze. it is hoped that the wildlife will live in the wild, and that the trap will be empty come spring. Hopefully there will be more

Today began with heavy, cold rain. The skies are unbroken and the colour of slate. Attila is shutting down much of the garden, mulching some of the perennials, pulling frost killed plants and cutting them up for the composters.

I made tomato sauce this morning, from the tomatoes that have ripened in the basement. There are still quite a few tomatoes down there, and most of them will ripen nicely, for eating, and for more tomato sauce. I am not going to can any more tomatoes, we have enough for this season, and enough pizza sauce as well in the freezer. So as the green tomatoes ripen, they will be either eaten fresh, or made into a sauce for the refrigerator. Tomato based soups will be on the menu this week.

Attila’s ferments are only two weeks old, but they both developed kahm yeast. Attila removed the kahm yeast, and pronounced the ferments tasted great. They were put in mason jars and refrigerated, and won’t last long. What was learned though, was that the ferments with kahm yeast could have been left the full fermentation time, 20 days minimum, before removing the yeast and bottling for the refrigerator.

Attila’s garden harvest was amazing this year. Not since moving away from the family farm have I seen such home grown bounty. Our house is now full, the bulk of the harvest is in, and there is no more room on the shelves, or in the freezer.

Garden Harvest:

Dandelion Blooms*
Nasturtium Leaves and Blooms
Chamomile*
Lemon Balm*
Cilantro
Cardamon*
Basil*
Oregano*
Dill*
Strawberries
Rhubarb*
Ground Cherries*
Melons
Sweet Peppers
Cayenne Peppers*
Jalapeno Peppers*
Habanero Peppers*
Spinach*
Radishes*
English Cucumbers*
Peas
Carrots
Green Beans
Scarlet Runner Beans*
Swiss Chard
Beets
Cabbage*
Brussel Sprouts*
Tomatoes: Beefsteak, Cherry, Black Russian, Roma, Mountain Spring Hybrid*

* INDICATES harvested in sufficient quantity to surpass immediate consumption needs, so requiring preservation.

Over the last year or so, I have acquired some fantastic food processing equipment. All of it got a good workout this year.

Food Preservation Equipment Used:

Canning Jars: 1 liter, 500-ml, 250-ml, wide mouth and regular mouth
Metal Canning Lids and Rings
Pickle Pipes (silicone)
Pickle Pebbles (glass)
Fermenting Jar Rings
All American Pressure Canner
Victorio Steam Canner
Victorio Steam Juicer
Two 8 Quart Stock Pots
One 16 Quart Stock Pot
Long Handled Wooden Spoon
Sieves
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Tongs
Clean cotton rags
Onion Chopper
Apple Whacker
Paring Knives
Food Mill
Apple Whacker
Food Processor
Dehydrator
Onion Chopper
Stove Oven
Vacuum Sealer
Vacuum Sealer Bags

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It is bright and sunny this morning! My load of laundry is almost finished washing, so that I can hang it on the line. The laundry will be hung on the line under the porch until the temperature drops so low that it will freeze out there. So far, the weather has been bonny for hanging out the wash.

Time slipped away on me again. A few busy days, checking things off my list. Actually, yesterday afternoon I checked the last thing off my list! But of course, it is time to start a new list. I love lists, they keep my mind free of clutter, and my days focused on the things that matter to me.

Attila and I decided that it would be best to apply window film to the lower portion of all of the living room windows. Up until Sunday evening, the possibility of coming out of the bathroom after a shower, to go to the bedroom to get dressed required closing the living room curtains, before dawn and after dusk. Open curtains opened up the possibility that anyone down the street, from the street, from a vehicle, from a house window, could look into our house if the lights were on, and observe us in the hallway and bedrooms. It was a niggling concern, which we have dealt with diligently over the last ten years, but now seemed a good time to address the issue.

The project of applying window film has been put off for weeks. All other projects seemed appealing, compared to it. The materials had been waiting. Our grocery bill has been lower this autumn, with our garden bounty providing so much of what we have been eating, so the surplus was used to purchase window film. All other projects seemed appealing, compared to this project. But at last, Monday morning, I had run out of excuses, the only project left on my list was applying window film. So it began.

Measuring and cutting such a large and cumbersome roll of plastic is difficult to do in a small, almost tiny, house. It took a half an hour to clear a space on the floor, large enough to spread out the film, in order to measure and cut it. And I can honestly say that the older I get, the more difficult it gets to work on projects using the floor as my workspace. Getting down there, and back up again, over and over and over again, well, it isn’t any fun. I am grateful I can still do it, but this is one of the rare instances where I find living in such a small space constraining.

The project took all day. Attila said he was glad he wasn’t here for it, and well he might! Some curmudgeony endeavors are best tackled solo, this was that sort of endeavor. At completion, the constant tension of the “fish bowl” effect evaporated. Why didn’t I make this happen earlier!!

Another project was to start two more ferments, green Ground Cherries, and Jalapeno Peppers. The Ground Cherries are experimental, they may be tasty, but they may not. All a failure will cost is a few teaspoons of wasted salt, so it is worth a try.

My crock of apple scraps are fermenting nicely. The crock is covered with a cotton cloth held in place with an elastic band, and is stirred daily to prevent mold from forming. It smells grand, very hard cidery. In about a week I will strain the fruit from the liquid, jar the liquid and compost the fruit scraps. Then the mixture will sit in a dark cupboard for weeks, until it it transforms itself into Apple Cider Vinegar. The last of the 2018 Apple Cider Vinegar, that was made with our own Crabapples, was used last night.

One of the projects being undertaken here at Mist Cottage is to reduce the recyclables. That was the starting point. Most of the recyclables here are beverage containers, coffee, milk, juice, and plain soda. In an effort to minimize packaging from beverages, a customized recipe of Switchel was prepared, and stored in a clean, empty two liter juice container that would have ended up in the recycling bin. Attila loves this stuff! So, some of the juice containers will no longer be coming into the house. Switchel, as per the recipe, is a sugary drink, and sugary drinks are a treat and not a beverage. The plan it so play with the sweetening agent, substituting some of the honey for Stevia. It will be an experiment to alter the proportions of honey to stevia until a delicious yet healthy balance is achieved.

There is an added benefit to Switchel, it is a lot less expensive than juice. Since a whopping third of our food budget is spent on beverages, this is a step towards reducing the food bills.

So far I’ve tackles a few small tasks. In 2017 I harvested some lovely lavender flowers, dried them, then stuck them in a glass jar with a lid. Today I removed the little blossoms from the stems, placed the blossoms in a labelled jar, and set the stems aside pending research into possible uses for them.

The edge of the forest at the Camp.
Where my day was spent, breaking up the dead branches, that were collected from all over the cleared area. The walk to collect dead branches is getting longer every season. When we started small trees and deadwood were dense into the cleared area, right up to the frontof the lawn chairs. It is much different now.
In the next few years the dead wood under the hydro lines will be gathered and burned, and that is a very long walk indeed!
Note the ring of sand around the fire pit, it was refreshed this year with three 7 gallon bucketfuls of sand, that had been shoveled up from our driveway. The sand in the driveway is the runoff from the road, and is a result of all the heavy construction equipment traveling past us daily. It is ours now!
Deadwood burning in the fire pit. The fire was allowed to burn down at lunch time, and hot dogs were roasted over the coals. They were served on homemade bread, with home grown chopped tomato, home grown Zucchini Relish, some mayonnaise and some chopped onions. Lip smacking good!
This little fellow was busy investigating me! He showed up at my elbow, as I was sitting in my chair. Eventually he moved, and disappeared from sight, although he was probably in plain sight, so well camouflaged was he.
The ingredients for Switchel, all lined up and waiting. On the left is the last of 2018 homemade Apple Cider Vinegar, made from our own Crabapples.

Worldly

Weather

13°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 30 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 12.9°C
Dew point: 8.9°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: N 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.”
Aristotle
384 BC – 322 BC

I have found this to be true, in my experience. I will say though, that picking fruit, and other menial labour jobs I have had, allowed a certain freedom of thought. It was only the “professional” jobs, where the mind was confined to set parameters, that cut into mental health. With manual labour, I could read a book in the evenings, and think about it all day doing repetitive manual tasks. I had a pretty good time actually, working on the farms.

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6 Responses to Full House

  1. WendyNC says:

    Maggie, the volume of your garden bounty is mind boggling. Some day, some day . . .

  2. Wendy, it is boggling my mind too!! And we still haven’t brought in the Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Beets, and Brussel Sprouts. Tonight we atet some of the tomato sauce that I put in the refrigerator instead of canning, a lovely Taco Soup. But we also chopped up 10 pounds of green tomatoes and 5 pounds of onions for Chow Chow, and made onion broth in the steam juicer. Tomorrow will be a very busy day for me!

  3. Teri says:

    Don’t you/Attila worry about the effect on your teeth from consuming so much vinegar?

    We finally had snow overnight. I think this is only the second time we haven’t had an October snow since I moved here 20 years ago.

  4. Teri, Switchel only contains 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per quart. Drinking 1 cup would be 3 teaspoons, much the same as a serving of salad dressing of oil and vinegar. Since we make everything ourselves, the vinegar is an obvious ingredients, but we really are not consuming a great quantity of it, and it is significantly diluted in the servings we do consume.
    No snow here yet! I checked the weather at the Country House, where we used to live, and sure enough, snow covered. Living at Mist Cottage is tropical! Well, I exaggerate of course, but that is what it feels like. Not only no snow, but the Swiss Chard is growing in the garden, still.

  5. Margarett says:

    It seems that all I have done these past couple of weeks is to drive for doctor appts. So far, so good. I did have three areas biopsy done yesterday…will know results Friday. Mike has back injection on Thursday….nothing compares to driving into Dallas at 6am. The girls get smushed next week, then I go in for my second rhizotomy. I started Meredith’s afgan, and I think it will be pretty. The doggies love the one I had made and then didn’t like it. It is rainy and cold here….had our first freeze last week…early for Texas. Again,I admire you and your gardening and food preservation. I can remember my grandma and mom doing a lot of canning and freezing…I didn’t do that much since I always worked. I did freeze a lot of vegetables when my children were young; their grandfather always had a huge vegetable garden. I would get home from work…shell peas until after midnight and then do the blanching and freezing the next night. I wish I had some of the homemade vegetable soup!,, well, I feel a nap calling me…take care, my friend.

  6. Margarett, glad to hear that things are going so far so good! You have a lot of medical stuff on your roster!
    Is driving into Dallas at 6 a.m. a good experience, or not? I’ve not been to Dallas, or Texas, so I am clueless about it.
    The afghans sound lovely! I’ve made two identical ones, and I am working, slowly, very slowly, on a lap blanket for Attila.
    I didn’t do a lot of canning when I was working full time, but I think if I had had a steam canner I might have canned more pickles and jams and jellies. I didn’t begin pressure canning until a few years ago. It is intimidating, so I took a course from a University Extension, read the manual and NCHFP material for months, then tried it, succeeded, tried it again, succeeded, and now the only concern I have is having enough time to get it done when the hydro is affordable. Our hydro is almost doubling in price starting this month, so this is now an even bigger concern. That nap sounds like good idea!