Stone Soup

Stone Soup

Well, well, well, here it is Friday already!

I have been very busy since we arrived back at the country house. Monday I peeled and chopped the half bushel of field tomatoes. That took most of the day, but I kept right on going and worked into the night to can five one litre jars of Chili Sauce. I used the hot water bath method of canning, which is more appropriate for Chili Sauce.

Tuesday I got up early and began the preparation work for a batch of salsa. I used the tomatoes I had peeled and chopped on Monday, and six large green peppers, which I manually ground in my 44 year old Spong food grinder. I received the food grinder as a farewell gift from my teammates in 1970, we taught together in an open plan classroom. I taught human nutrition, and food/clothing preparation/construction, they taught art, pottery, and woodworking.

Wednesday was another salsa day, this time using the last of the previously peeled and chopped tomatoes to make pure tomato salsa. At the end of the day I had five litres of Chili Sauce and ten 500 ml jars of Salsa.

Thursday was spent processing the last of the celery given to us by Terra and Lares, the last of the stalks were chopped, blanched and frozen for soups and stews. The final chapter of the food preservation marathon was to use every scrap of vegetable to be found to make “Stone Soup”. Stone Soup at our house is soup made from whatever can be found. I started with the washed discards of celery, added frozen vegetable discards, the scraps from previous cooking episodes. That was boiled down to make a broth, which was sieved, and the roughage discarded. To that I added more vegetable broth, and vegetables: potatoes, carrots, corn niblets, peas, onion, chopped cucumber, garlic, quantities unmeasured. Then the seasonings were added, garlic granules, salt, pepper, dried basil, and a dash of lemon juice. That simmered all day long, and when Attila got home I mixed up a batch of dumplings, and fifteen minutes later we had a lovely dinner.

I am always completely flummoxed when I people eat tasteless food because they only have basic ingredients. What is wrong with them!?! A little bit of browning and braising and caramelizing in the pan can bring out incredible flavours in foods, one does not need a lot of salt and fat and sugar to “spice” things up! As well, a perfectly respectable variety of herbs can be grown in gardens. I taught all these techniques, in cooking with basic ingredients, in my home economics classes. I didn’t invent the techniques, they are tried and true.

Today I have been busy with paperwork. The receipts and bookkeeping needed careful attention, as our renovation expenses were a bit higher than we had planned for. Back to robbing Peter to pay Paul for a while I think, but that is merely annoying, one of my pet peeves.

Attila has been busy since we returned. On Monday the brakes on our little car seized. He has about one hour of daylight per day to work on projects, so that time has been used to work on the car, which is temporarily out of service. We are back to being a one car family, which is manageable as long as I turn down work. My horrid little on-call job does not pay enough to support a vehicle, let alone me, so that I won’t be accepting any shifts unless Attila gets the little car back on the road. I had previously accepted two upcoming shifts, an hours drive from home, so after honouring those commitments, I fear my ability to work has ended.

We took a drive over to our camp on Wednesday night, and loaded our big car with firewood from the trees felled earlier in the summer. It was lovely to be there. We estimate that the gas for the visit was paid for by the value of the firewood we brought back with us.

Imp and Elf have a birthday this week, eight years old! Such marvellous little people, we will call them this evening to wish them happy birthday. We couldn’t call in the morning because Attila left for work before light, far to early to call anyone.

I have been struggling with our desktop computer! I am very annoyed with Apple, they updated iTunes and that darn program interfered with the startup process, so the computer will not startup. This is well reported by Apple computer owners since September 10th, 2014. After using all my usual tricks, I now have to try to restore from a backup, and if that fails, reinstall the operating system completely. Of course, I can still startup in safe mode, but running the computer in safe mode is not a satisfying experience. I certainly won’t be going with Mavericks again if I have to reinstall, nothing but issue after issue. They must be hiring young hot shots, who are more interested in speed than quality. I guess their attitude is that people with perfectly good computers, that are not brand new, should just buy another computer. The company is getting top heavy, in my opinion.

kitchen bifold door
The Kitchen Bifold Door: Kate, this was the best image I could find in my collection of the kitchen bifold door, does it help? I hope so!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EDT Friday 19 September 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -0.1°C
Dewpoint: -0.8°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: E 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -1


“I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”
Kahlil Gibran
1883 – 1931


  1. You’ve certainly been busy this last week! I feel old, seeing all you’re doing and yet simply being grateful for being able to get around yesterday and do shopping without pain thanks to my friend ibuprofen. 😉 And yet, with your teaching back in 1970, I’m thinking you’re slightly older than I am? I’m 57.

    Currently, I’m looking for a tasty recipe to use on a small number of green grape tomatoes. I’ve been over to and haven’t found anything that interests me yet. Maybe I’ll take a chance – having never cooked green tomatoes before – and throw them into a pot of chili.

    I too can’t understand anyone who eats bland food. We actually have 3 spice cupboards, each full with different spices. I live for the day when we can upgrade the kitchen and have a large spice storage area that will handle all our spices.

    Sending “healing” wishes for both your computer and your little car. I’m sorry to say that I cannot see the picture of the bifold doors, it appears to be broken.

  2. Teri, I had a debilitating back injury back in 1995, and for about six months it looked like I would never be able to take a walk in the woods again. Mobility is such a sweet freedom, glad to hear you managed it, even if it took a few pills to get there!

    We too have several spice cupboards. Since the mason jar industry has just begun to produce and sell tinted jars, which will protect my spices from light deterioration, I am busy organizing my spices into two categories, jars and refill packages. Of course the mason jars do not fit nicely into little spice racks! But we are working on putting the tinted jars on display, where they will be handy for everyday use. It is a work in progress.

    The bifold door picture gave me a bit of technical difficulty. Bad file name, then uploaded the wrong file, then the site froze, and finally now I think the image appears as it should.

    I have the computer up and running, restored from a backup. The little car isn’t coming along very quickly, as Attila is getting sidetracked by other projects. We are managing with one car so far, but I won’t be accepting any more work; we can’t afford to jeopardize Attila’s job in any way, fiddling with transportation issues, since he has a viable job, and my pathetic short shift’s far away from home, are a joke, not a job.

  3. Bex

    I love the idea of tinted mason jars for all spices. I have an entire wall cabinet with them, and then two wrought iron spice racks I installed behind/over the stove. Of course, they are spilling out onto a little book shelf I have there, too. I use spices/herbs all the time and what a difference they make in plain old food. Unfortunately, Paul can’t “smell” things very well and with no sense of smell, his sense of taste suffers – but he doesn’t even notice it anymore! So I just cook the way I want it to taste and he never complains!

  4. Stone Soup! One of my favorite stories. I included it in a cookbook I self-published – mostly for my children. I called it A Reason to Season. 🙂 I continue to be so impressed with your industriousness! The folding door is lovely, btw.

  5. Maggie, is the mason jar company making dark colored jars? I’d be really unsure about keeping larger amounts of spices in lightly colored jars. We keep our refill packages in a large rectangular tupperware in a cupboard, with only smaller jars and cans being in the spice cabinets. But honestly, we have probably 30-40 different spices/herbs, so I don’t think we’d have room for keeping mason jars handy.

    In the future, plans for our kitchen is to have cabinet/pantries on one side, so then at least we’d have room for everything.

  6. Bex, I guess no sense of smell can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, depending on the circumstances. Clearing blocked sewer pipes sure wouldn’t be as offensive a job without a sense of smell! But compromised taste buds, well that is a definite disadvantage!

    Spices are wonderful, we have all kinds of them and use them each and every day! So many young people have not learned to cook using ingredients!

  7. Teri, Bernardin in Canada is now selling mason jars tinted green and blue, design ca 1881. I have seen them in Home Hardware and in Canadian Tire stores. They are not very dark, but will mediate light. I bought the smaller ones for our spices, 500 ml. That size will last six months to a year at our house, which is not an unreasonable amount of time to have spices exposed to the light. With the tiny spice jars we can run out of spices within a week, so it is handy to have the larger jars for the often used spices and herbs.

    For instance, I use a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon every morning in my oatmeal, and we use dried basil by the tablespoonful almost every day.

    The storage area for the jars, at the little house, is well away from the windows, and the jars will not be exposed to direct sunlight in that location.

    A pantry! What a wonderful addition to a kitchen! My Great Aunt Goldie had a pantry, as did my paternal Grandmother. These were wondrous rooms, lined with shelves that were loaded with ingredients; bags of oatmeal, flour, bran, sugar, rice…

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