After the intensely emotional Covid-19 scare last week, the dust is settling and life is falling back into order once more. We have been sleeping a lot, intense emotions have worn us down a bit. But we are on the upswing again now. For the moment, all is well.
So, back at the ranch (Mist Cottage) I am keeping myself busy. Yesterday Attila harvested what might be the last of the Pickling Cucumbers, and some English Cucumbers, so 7 jars of Dill Slices were canned.
The canning session took a lot longer than usual. Tuckered out by the workplace Covid scare over the weekend, I was very tired. So I had to slow down the process so as not to make mistakes. The task that concerned me most was dicing the cucumbers with the mandolin, I could do some serious damage to myself with the mandolin. I prepared the mandolin, and the Cucumbers, then I took a long break, and when I felt up to it I began. It went very well, no problems. Slow and steady won the day, so to speak.
Along with the Cucumbers, two large Zucchini were harvested, and with the one harvested on Monday, there was enough for 5 jars of Zucchini-Pineapple. The Zucchini is diced with a paring knife, so that went a little faster, no nearly so dangerous as the mandolin.
Another kitchen project under way over the weekend, and into this week, has been dehydrating Candied Melon Rind. The result is about 3 cups of Dehydrated Candied Melon Rind, made from the rind of one medium sized Watermelon. This Melon Rind will be added to sweet bread recipes, and perhaps muffins, over the winter months. Since the melons in the garden are doing very well this year, I may have a lot of work ahead of me, transforming the rinds into Candied Melon Rind.
Today is another day full of happy activity. This morning the Instant Pot was pressed into service to make a Vegetable Soup. Lunches are haphazard when I am so busy during harvest season, so I wanted something that I could quickly heat up in the microwave for a nourishing lunch. I used 1/4 pound of Ground Beef, a little olive oil, and the following vegetables:
Red Pepper chopped
1 Whole Beet and Greens chopped (our garden)
5 small carrots chopped (our garden)
1 cup green beans (our garden)
2 potatoes chopped (our garden)
1 litre of canned tomatoes (our garden, last jar from 2018)
1/2 litre of vegetable broth (homemade, home canned)
1 tbsp. crushed dried basil leaves (organic from friend)
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. brown sugar
My lunch consisted of one big bowl of Vegetable Soup, and one slice of homemade Organic 100% Whole Wheat Bread. That’s better, on the really busy days I had been resorting to handful of homemade trail mix for lunch, which is not too bad, but not so satisfying a nice bowl of hot soup.
The second project of the day is underway, Hot Dog Buns. The last batch were Organic 100% Whole Wheat, and although they were very good, they were a little heavy for our taste. When I last made Hamburger Buns the recipe was tweaked, using 1/2 Whole Wheat Flour and 1/2 Bread Flour. That made a much lighter bun, and so the same adjustment is being made today for the Hot Dog Buns.
The evenings have been very busy for Attila. The basement is an ongoing project. It seemed obvious the new shelving area would benefit from a light blocking wall. Light is not good for home canned goods After some discussion, it was decided that a wall would be erected behind the shelves, to block light, and as a support to which we could affix the shelves, preventing any possibility of unhappy accidents. The stud installation was completed last night, and hopefully this week the wall board will be painted and installed. This is where Attila’s penchant for collecting comes heavily into play. Over the years our stash of rescued lumber and building materials has expanded. Most people would call it trash and throw it out, but not Attila. The stud wall is built completely from rescued lumber, and the bonus is that the lumber no longer needs to be stored.
We have been getting lots of rain for the last four days, so that the garden is green and radiant. When it rains, the task of watering the garden is considerably lightened, and at times completely eliminated. This frees up time for other garden activities. Attila has planted more Kohlrabi and Cabbage, and will be planting even more Kohlrabi this weekend. There has been the odd ripe Cherry Tomato over the last week or so, and very soon there will be a lot of them ripening, so I will be busy canning Cherry Bomb Tomatoes, about a dozen jars. Then all of the Tomatoes that ripen will either be eaten fresh, or popped into the freezer washed and whole, until such time as a there are enough to warrant a canning session. Also coming soon is a Basil harvest, so there will be some Pesto making.
A happy discovery involves our Ground Cherries. They are beginning to ripen, but there weren’t enough for the filling for squares. My solution was to crack open a newly canned jar of Zucchini-Pineapple, to mix with the Ground Cherries. The squares were outstanding, it is a great combination. It would be nice if the Ground Cherry harvest were large enough this year to freeze them in two cup packages for baking.
Every day I go down into the basement, and I feel great that three shelves are partly organized. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the basement is total chaos, because I know that now it is only a matter of time before all those piles of stuff will settle in an orderly fashion, and I will be able to find things again, but more easily than ever before. Last night I lost my shoes down there, took them off, and Attila cleared the area where I left them, so he could do some work. It took a while, but we found them. These are temporary situations, so we can laugh at them.
And, to make this an almost perfect day, after all the heat and welcome rain we have had, the windows are open! The air is fresh, there is a breeze wandering through the house, the clouds are drifting across the sky, shading some moments, flashing sunshine at others.
Stay safe dear friends!
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Wednesday 19 August 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Dew point: 11.2°C
Wind: NW 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Worries go down better with soup than without.”