Friday, October 2, 2014
I am sitting on the back verandah at the little house in the city. It is 8:00 a.m., I have already chatted with Attila, enjoyed a cup of coffee, paid the dreaded bills (ouch!), and put the blue box out to the curb for pickup. While taking out the blue box I was struck by what a beautiful morning it was, and decided to write outside on the verandah, while the sun shines. There are no mosquitoes, no black flies. This afternoon the clouds are supposed to roll in, and stay for an extended visit. Plenty of time then for indoor pursuits.
Attila was sounding very tired this morning. He does not take enough time away from his many projects, when I am not around to insist on his spending down time. Pacing yourself is such an important part of life, the importance of which was demonstrated to me by my Grandpa. He was installing a new metal roof on his house. During his project I visited frequently, and observed that he would do a bit of work up on the ladder, high in the air, then come down and rest for a bit, read, have a cup of coffee. Back up he would go when well rested, until he tired a wee bit, and back down he would come. This went on for the entire project.
He was in his eighties at the time, and slowing down, but still spryer than most young people. Have a look at the house, that is the roof my Grandpa put on the house all those years ago, and would accept no help from me!
Here it is October already! Flocks of geese fly over the house frequently, honking farewell as they go. Some of the trees have completely shed their leaves, while others are still clothed in green. The air is fresh and clean, pushing the clouds along impatiently, nudging the trees, sighing through the Spruce beside the verandah.
Cicadas. They usually herald the end of summer, beginning sometime in August, singing at dusk. Not this year though, not a single song has been heard at the country or the city house!
I have been thinking about something Terra said yesterday, when she dropped by during her lunch break. We were talking about the curse of credit cards, and she observed that “you can’t live without debt these days”. I informed her that you certainly could live without credit card debt. She informed me that no one does. I could not argue with that!
Credit card debt seems to be accepted as “normal”. Not by me. I regard it as a blight, a disease, something to be cured of. Attila and I have some debt, related to housing. Until that debt is gone we will be thinking every single purchase through, weighing the pros and cons. We make choices that others would not, and that is to be expected, variety is the spice of life. In my view everyone has the right to create their own priorities, in how to save money, how to spend it, and how to handle debt. Credit card debt is a choice.
Terra stopped by twice, once before she headed off to work, and once during her lunch break. What a welcome bit of cheer she brings. She does most of the talking, telling me about her “day” at work, funny stories, sad stories, stories that make her angry. I listen, occasionally commenting. This one sided “conversation” nourishes us both. She is heard, accepted, and I am entrusted, blameless. She seeks no action from me, no solutions, I offer none. I do throw in the odd comment to challenge her, and she usually rejects this input, in the moment. What I notice is that, much later, she has thought over what I had to say, made it her own, incorporated it into her life in her very own way, and made good use of it. This is very satisfying, and affirms my hope for the species.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Cloudy skies and rain today. The temperature fell from 15C in the morning, to 11C in the afternoon. Fall weather has arrived.
After chatting with Attila, I considered the day as I sipped my morning cup of coffee. Cooking and canning, yes, that is how I decided to spend my day.
First, a batch of basmati rice was cooked in the microwave. While that was cooking, a quart of fresh mushrooms were sliced. A generous few tablespoons of olive oil were added to a large saucepan, and when that was heated, in went the mushrooms. While the mushrooms cooked, four small onions were diced, then added to the saucepan. The mushrooms and onions cooked until there was some browning on the bottom of the saucepan, then the heat was turned off. The cooked rice was fluffed and made ready to be added to the mushrooms and onions. As the saucepan cooled, it deglazed easily, the rice was added, and all was stirred well. Into a large bowl it then went, was covered, and refrigerated for future meals. This mixture will be heated with a generous teaspoon of dried garlic and pepper herb mixture added. This is one of my favourite meals.
Then it was time to peel apples, for another apple crisp. The recipe used is quite good, but this apple crisp is meant as a breakfast food, not as a dessert, so the sugar and fat will be reduced to half, and the salt omitted. This apple crisp also makes a healthy snack, particularly when accompanied by a cold glass of milk, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or in the evening.
After lunching on mushrooms and rice, and a small portion of the Apple Crisp, one has to try these things out while they are at their peak, it was time to ready the kitchen for a pressure canning session.
Beans in tomato sauce were on the roster for today. Using the recipe from The National Centre For Home Food Preservation, I made the sauce, filled the jars with beans and sauce and boiling water, placed the lids on finger tight, and got the pressure canner going; of course following my manual and all the necessary steps and precautions. I followed the written instructions carefully, and will for quite a while, until the process become second nature. I am one of those people who can discover almost EVERY WAY to make a mistake. This time, I made the mistake of positioning the canner to face the back of the range. It is impossible to rotate the monster once it has water and full canning jars in it. Now, this will have no ill effects on the canning process, but what it does mean is that I have crane my neck to see the reading on the gauge, and cannot watch it from a seated position at the kitchen table. Annoying, and I will not make that mistake twice!
The range at the little house offers inconsistent heat. The entire canning session demands my attention to the dial, trying to balance the pressure so that it does not fall below the required level, or rise above the required level. The heat is turned down, then the heat is turned up, the heat is turned down… you get the picture. It was a long 65 minutes!
I think I may have my siphoning problem beat. Siphoning is when some of the contents of the canning jars ends up in the water in the canner instead of in the jars. This time around, instead of lifting the weight gauge quickly off, it was eased off very slowly, a little at a time, to release the pressure by small increments. No siphoning. The jars of beans in molasses sauce are still bubbling a bit, even after four hours on the counter to cool. They won’t be touched until tomorrow morning, when I will check the seals, and if the seals are good, store the jars away in a cool dark place until we are ready to eat them. Well, I will probably sample one of them tomorrow!
I meant to take a walk today, but was too busy with my projects in the kitchen to get away. Maybe tomorrow!
So here it is, the end of another day. Time passes quickly here at the little house in the city, not as quickly as it does when Attila and I are together, but quickly enough. As the light fades, I am happy to observe that the temperature inside the house is steady around 20C, without any heating equipment operating. I am as snug as a bug in a rug. Hmm.. I wonder where that saying comes from.
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 3 October 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Wind: SSE 35 gust 45 km/h
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Saturday 4 October 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Wind: WSW 33 gust 45 km/h
“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.”