Blogmas Day 4: Surprise

A sunny day here today.

Terra dropped by this morning with Sunny and Sky and Willow. How can Grandchildren be so cute! Such bright little souls! They are so active, like twinkling lights as they dash here and there. They knew exactly who I was, telling me that they were at “Grandma’s house” as they came up the front steps of the house. Willow is four months old, she is alert, watches her older brother and sister with great interest, as if she just can’t wait to get moving and join them. The big attraction on this visit to Grandma’s house were the boxes of oranges and clementines that were stored on a lower shelf in the kitchen. As Terra and I sat in the living room, we heard a series of loud thumps coming from the kitchen. I came around the corner and into the kitchen just in time to see Sky toss an orange down the length of the kitchen floor, he was bowling with oranges. I persuaded him that rolling the oranges and clementines was a much better idea, so he and his sister had a wonderful time bowling with oranges, aiming for invisible pins. They even picked up every last orange and clementine and returned them to the boxes for Grandma. Too soon they were putting on their boots and coats, getting ready to take Terra’s friend to the hospital, as the friend had been in a terrible accident on the highway a few days ago, and needed to be taken to her doctor’s appointment. It was a horrendous accident, and she walked away from it after being hit full speed by a transport truck, which is nothing short of miraculous.

I don’t know where the time goes, but it isn’t hanging out at Mist Cottage, it flies right on by.

I had taken a break from consuming apple cider vinegar (ACV) daily, and took the habit up once more over the weekend. I mix two tablespoons of honey with boiling water in a mug, let it cool for five minutes, then add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. The first time I tried this I didn’t care for it all that much, but the taste has grown on me, and I now look forward to it as a treat. Another treat in my diet is my Turmeric Cookies, which make tasty and satisfying breakfast.

Tonight was another Instant-Pot-dinner night. I sautéed hamburger, added chopped onions and browned, then added two cups of water and deglazed. Next the vegetable steamer was placed in the pot over the hamburger mixture, and diced potatoes and carrots were added, with a bit of freshly ground pepper sprinkled over them. The Instant Pot was turned on, fifteen minutes later pressure was reached, twelve minutes later the cooking was complete, and fifteen minutes later the lid came off, the vegetables were removed from the pot, the gravy was thickened with a flour and water mixture, and then dinner was served.

it is getting dark much earlier! The days grow short, perhaps that is why time if flying by!



Date: 8:00 PM EST Tuesday 4 December 2018
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -3.5°C
Dew point: -8.2°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 24 km


“Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure-do it well, enjoy it-and then, not now, think about what comes next.”
Condoleezza Rice

Not all surprises are created equally!

Harvest Season Vacation

My vacation this year was taken primarily in the kitchen over a hot stove. Pressure canning!  Doesn’t sound like a dream vacation does it?  It didn’t sound that way to me, but the reality is very far from the experience.  I love canning, I love harvest season, I love spending time in my kitchen, I love good fresh food, and I loved having Attila around and about the place, sometimes helping me, sometimes off puttering in the garden or the garage.  Most of all I love to get my teeth into an activity, tackle it, and accomplish a goal.

Here are a few pictures of my canning adventure.

canning assembly line in kitchen

This is the canning assembly line in the kitchen. There were no meals cooked during the canning days, all available space was used for at least 12 hours each day, and usually deep into the night.

Jars of Tomatoe Red Pepper Sauce

The first 23 jars of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce cooling on the table. Pressure canned jars need to sit undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours, before moving them into storage.

tomato puree

Cooking the tomato puree, in the 16 quart pot. The smaller pot was used for boiling water to sterilize the jars, rings, lids, attachments, for canning.

jars of tomatoes on kitchen counter

The results of the canning marathon! 12 Litre jars of Tomato Puree. And there is my All American Pressure Canner, resting after all its hard work.

dehydrating tomato skins and seeds

After making tomato puree with the food mill, the skins and seeds were spread on silicon sheets and placed in a 200F oven for an hour or so, this was done several times.

Jar of powdered tomatoes, with three layers.

The dehydrated tomato skins and seeds. Multiple methods of dehydration were used and can be seen in the layers in the jar. The bottom layer was air-dried, then put in the blender to create the light coloured tomato powder. The middle layer, a little darker in colour, was baked briefly in shallow baking pans, then powdered. The darkest layer, the top layer, was baked on silicon sheets in the oven, then powdered.

large pot of applesauce

The apple puree in a 15 quart stock pot. The half bushel of apples had the blossom ends and stems cut out, were quartered, boiled till soft, then put through the food mill. This was a lot of applesauce, and the pot was almost too heavy for me to lift myself.

jar with apple skins and seeds and botto of apple cider vinegar

The skins and seeds, taken from the food mill and placed in a 1 1/2 litre mason jar. To this I added 2 tablespoons of sugar dissolved in water, 2 tablespoons of
apple cider vinegar, and water to cover all of the skins and seeds, which almost filled the jar. It is sitting a dark cupboard for two weeks now, with a coffee filter covering it, held down by the screw top lid. This may or may not yield apple cider vinegar.

9 jars of applesauce

The applesauce made from 1/2 bushel of Paulared apples. The jars were pressure canned, and they all sealed as they should.

comsumers mason jar

I have been canning for decades. This was one of my first set of canning jars, a Consumers Mason jar. I have only a few of these now. I don’t remember where the others ended up, probably given as gifts, filled with some canned delight.

Atlas Mason jar

This Atlas mason jar is one I acquired somewhere, no idea where. It is an American Quart, rather than a litre.

Douglas Mason jar.

I have five or six of the Douglas Mason jars in my collection.

Dominion Mason jar.

The Dominion Mason jar, I have a few of these as well. I originally had a dozen each of the Consumers Mason, Douglas Mason, and Dominion Mason jars. I don’t remember ever having broken a jar, so I suspect I gave the missing jars away, filled with food.

different varieties of tomatoes on a plate

In the summer of 2018 we grew four varieties of tomatoes.
Upper Left: big round Pink Girl
Upper Right: one short oblong Health Kick tomato
Middle: elongated tomatoes, San Marino
Bottom: Amish Paste tomatoes
I would not grow the Pink Girl tomatoes again, they were nice but not outstanding and took a long time to ripen. The others were very nice tasting, and were wonderful for canning.

The beat up chest freezer.

And finally, the poor old thing!  This is the little second hand chest freezer I bought years ago. It was only meant to be a temporary solution to keeping frozen foods at Mist Cottage before we moved here. But when we sold the Country House, the buyers wanted our bigger, new freezer, so we had to let it go. Now this is the main freezer. It is not energy efficient, and it is very beat up, that is why I got if for a song. It works, but it doesn’t provide as much storage as we need. That is why I am canning and not freezing during this harvest season.



Date: 1:00 PM EDT Monday 10 September 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 12.6°C
Dew point: 11.4°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: ENE 10 km/h
Visibility: 13 km

It was less than a week ago the humidex was hitting 40C! Look at that high today 13C! The weather people say warmer weather is on the way. That will give the garden a chance to yield lots of produce before the first frost hits.


“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970