Little Bits

Congratulations are in order for Rymal, who recently took possession of a new apartment. Sending good wishes for you in your new home!

During our renovation vacation we managed one recreational day. We sort of blew it though. We started out with a picnic lunch, heading for a provincial park for a hike. However, I just wanted to peek at the fabric store as we passed by, as there are NO fabric stores close to our country house, and we would be driving right by one, an opportunity not to be missed. We took the scenic route, after making a wrong turn, and enjoyed passing farms and forest.

A farm with a long driveway, along our route to the fabric store.
Vacation2014driveFARM

Well, while I was selecting the fabric for the curtains in the kitchen and dining room, Attila was out exploring the shopping plaza. When all was said and done at the fabric store, Attila hastened me over to a discount store he had found. Wow, we found a great Christmas gift for Terra and Lares, and a few items for ourselves too. By the time we left the discount store it was too late in the day to head to a provincial park.

We were hungry, so we found a park close to the shopping area and headed over there to eat our picnic lunch. It was lovely, we managed to walk for several hours on the paths, by the shore of Lake Ontario. We did not reach our original destination, but we had a lovely time at the park anyway.

We came across this lovely spot, the bench overlooks Lake Ontario.
Vacation2014parkbench

Last Saturday I worked, an hour away from home. When I got back after 1 p.m. Attila loaded the car with some wood for Terra and Lares dining room, and our luggage, and off we drove to the little house in the city.

When we arrived Lares was there, and had been there all day. He installed a heat pump for us, and finished the job around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Lares is fully qualified to install furnaces and air conditioners. What a whirlwind he is! We did not expect to have the unit in for weeks, working on it a bit at a time at each overnight visit. And there we have it, one overnight visit and the installation is complete!

We now have a dual heating system: an oil furnace and a heat pump. The heat pump will also provide air conditioning. It works like a charm AND we can monitor the interior temperature and humidity of the little house, from the country house! That will come in handy, keeping an eye on things during the times when we are not there.

Of course, we won’t need to use the heat pump for a while yet. Without the aid of the heating system, the interior temperature of the little house is holding steady at 20C, which is perfect. The heat pump will operate when the temperature falls a bit, and heat is needed, but not a lot. In the dead of winter the oil furnace will be providing the heat, but it need not come on at all until it gets very cold outside. We will be monitoring our use of hydro carefully, to assess the hoped for savings. The price of electricity to run the heat pump compression chamber and fan is the only cost involved in heating the house with the heat pump. Electricity costs a lot, but then so does fuel oil, so it remains to be seen how much this will keep our bills down.

We arrived home last night, after 10 p.m., it was an awfully long drive in the dark, and the heavy rain. Attila called out to me from the country house, as he unlocked the door, that the power was out. We have no idea how long it had been out, and it was still out when I went to bed. Attila stayed up late to burn a small fire in the little wood stove, just to take the chill out of the air in the interior of the house. He said the power came back on around midnight.

While we were at the little house I did the usual stocking up on food supplies. This time I bought ten pound bags of vegetables. Three ten pound bags could be had for $5.00, a very reasonable price. I bought three bags of onions for $5.00, three bags of potatoes for $5.00, and two bags of carrots and one bag of beets for $5.00.

The vegetables from the store where I made this purchase are often near the end of their best shelf life, so they need to be dealt with quickly, so as not lose any to spoilage. So today I used my 21 1/2 quart pressure canner to cook ten pounds of beets, and ten pound of carrots. All of the cooked vegetables were flash frozen, and bagged, for winter meals.

This is a lot of work. The cost of the vegetables is about 37 cents a kilogram, and because we already own the freezer, and the pressure canner, and I have enough time to devote to processing the vegetables, we are saving a pretty penny. It doesn’t cost much to process the vegetables, the beets took 15 minutes, the carrots took 4 minutes, and the cost of freezing is negligible, as the fuller the freezer, the more efficiently it runs.

I still have another ten pounds of carrots to process. After that I will be ready to can some more Chili Beans for Attila. The Chili Beans are a great success! Attila eats them with hot peppers, for a snack. He has already eaten two one litre jars of the canned beans, so I will be kept busy keeping up with his appetite!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Monday 22 September 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.6°C
Dewpoint: 3.3°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: WNW 18 gust 37 km/h

Quote

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

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5 Responses to Little Bits

  1. Bex says:

    Well, I know where we could stop for supper if we are ever in your neighborhood! You’ve got plenty of food stocked up! I love that you are getting so much use from your canning contraption. I was all gung-ho when I bought my two pressure cookers but now hardly ever use them. I do love the actual pot on the braiser pressure cooker pot and I use that all the time, it’s nice and heavy and substantial.

    How is Mist?

  2. Maggie says:

    Bex, I have owned a pressure cooker since 1969, and I still have my original. The gasket on it is a pain though, and the last one I bought didn’t seal properly. Attila bought me another pressure cooker for Christmas a few years ago. If I were to use my regular size pressure cooker to cook the beets today, it would have taken three to four loads. As it was, my 21 1/2 quart pressure canner, which can also be used as a cooker, handled the entire ten pounds of vegetables at one go. That simplifies bulk cooking and freezing by a wide margin.

    I really bought the pressure canner for the beans though. Attila loves his beans, and they are time consuming to cook and freeze. Canning our own dried beans, with his favourite spices, gives him an instant snack food, and will be handy for making chili and other bean dishes. We buy beans in 12.5 kg bags, they are a staple at our house, much more so than bread.

    Personally, I am a baked bean fan, and am looking forward to canning baked beans for myself. But first, Attila’s Chili Bean supply needs to be secured!

  3. You folks are sure sounding ready for hibernation. You’re going to have a ton of food on your hands. DH and I often think well of ourselves as we buy on sales and store foods in an old chest freezer, but you’ve got us beat by a long shot.

    Sounds like I needed to have you and Attila over for dinner, tonight. For the first time in many years I made an old family recipe of baked beans, originally created by my uncle. I did take a short cut, though, and use canned beans. Sadly, I have never been completely successful in cooking beans. For some reason they always turn out like rocks for me, so when I got it in my bonnet to make baked beans this week we bought some canned romano beans and used them in the recipe. It turned out quite tasty, though I do have to cut back just a bit on the water I put in.

  4. Maggie says:

    Teri, it sounds like a lot of food, but it won’s last long around here. Attila eats, and eats, and eats… like a teenage boy really. He works outside, and he works hard. He eats about four times the number of calories that I eat in a day. I try to make sure the handy foods are healthy, and am very grateful that he likes beans.

    Actually, I was thinking about how little I would need to can and freeze if I were just feeding myself, it would be a completely different way of life, lol!

    Cooking dried beans can be tricky, it took me a while to get the results I wanted. I have been using the crockpot with great success, which has some drawbacks and requires extra precautions:

    Caveat: Cook beans in a crockpot at your own risk, do it the right way. “Dried beans, especially kidney, contain a natural toxin. These toxins are easily destroyed by boiling. Safe steps for preparing would include soaking the beans for 12 hours, rinsing, and then boiling for at least 10 minutes, before adding the beans to a slow cooker.” University of Minnesota Extension

    However, I have to say that canning dry beans is the best method I have come across. They MUST to be canned in a pressure canner, there is no other safe way to do it. The real challenge in canning beans is getting used to using the pressure canner. Every time I use it the process gets easier. I follow the written directions each and every time though, to ensure I do not develop any bad habits.

  5. I have all the old directions for the soaking, rinsing, boiling of beans (including baking soda being in there, somewhere) from the recipes created by my family. (My grandmother not only owned her own restaurant for a time but had also cooked for a slew of farmhands on the prairie and also for a hospital, so she was very accomplished.) But even with those excellent directions, I just can’t get those beans to get to a normal soft stage. I guess I never inherited the bean gene. 😉 So I make do, and this has for the most part worked as we did enjoy the beans, even if this batch doesn’t quite measure up to my memories.

    We’re having beans again this evening, with Oktoberfest sausage this time.

    DH tried to bring some beans over for his son last night. We often try to treat the grown kids with foods we make. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten that he has reactions to the Splenda brown sugar mix that I used. So no beans for him yesterday, but I did promise that next time I make them I’ll use regular brown sugar so he can have some.