Canning Odyssey

Well, I didn’t stop pressure canning with two batches of canned tomatoes, and two batches of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce. A trip to an apple farm, an outing, tempted a purchase of a half bushel of Paulared apples. I don’t like them for eating, they are too tart for me, so applesauce was their destiny. They are an early variety, the varieties I prefer for eating will ripen later in September.

A shout out to Wendy and Bex here! Wendy, when I last made applesauce you suggested using a food mill! Bex, you also recommended a food mill! Great suggestion. My new food mill is definitely the way to go with tomato sauce and applesauce, it is a game changer, with a little help from my friends.

Yesterday I made 9 1/2 litres of applesauce, and pressure canned 9 litres of it. Another 12 hour marathon. The down side of doing this on a weekday is that the low-peak hydro prices aren’t in effect until 7:00 p.m., so that I can’t start the pressure canning until then. That means I have to stay up late at night to complete two canning sessions, as the canner only holds 7 one litre jars at a time. It was a late night last night. The result was 9 litres of tart, delicious applesauce.

The advantage to canning is that it stores without electricity. I love freezing, but our second-hand, beat-up, smallish freezer doesn’t allow for much in the way of bulk storage. Canned goods can sit on the shelves for a few years, needing no equipment or electricity to keep them viable.

If we ever had a prolonged power outage, you would find me in the back yard with my propane camp stove, pressure canning the contents of our freezer. Mostly fruits and vegetables, and a bit of meat. Hopefully that never happens.

So, the only canning left on my itinerary is pressure canning our garden tomatoes, all organic, all non-gmo. As they ripen they are washed and frozen whole. When the growing season is over, and all of the tomatoes have ripened and have been frozen, it will be time to can them.

I can’t think of a better way to wait out a heat wave, which broke this morning. I’ve been canning since last weekend, and it has been hot as hades here. But I’ve indulged myself by working hard in an air-conditioned house, which is even kept cool in the evenings when the pressure canner is sputtering away on the stove!

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 6 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.5°C
Dew point: 17.9°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: NNE 19 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.”
Joan Rivers
1935 –

This reminds me of a trip to Costco… I’ve not once seen a smiling face on a customer in there! The staff however, are extremely pleasant and smile a lot, for which I give them credit, considering the dour lot that shop there.

Peach

Here it is, 12:30 p.m., and I am still sitting on the back porch. The shade won’t last much longer out here, my fingers and feet are beginning to swell, and the air is beginning to feel oppressive. After I type this paragraph I will pull the cabana curtains across the deck, bundle my stuff into my arms, and head for the air-conditioned inner sanctum of Mist Cottage. I have enjoyed sitting out here on the back porch all morning, watching the wind blow in the trees, the flowers sway in the wind, the hummingbirds and butterflies, the birds, and Attila working away at the exterior finishes of the garage. But alas, the heat is chasing me away!

I feel thoroughly refreshed for having sat outside for over six hours!

The garden is beginning to gift us food. This morning breakfast consisted of a toasted tomato sandwich, with a plump, juicy, red tomato from the garden. There are Scarlet Runner Beans sitting in the refrigerator, washed and prepped for tonight’s Instant Pot dinner. All morning I have been snacking on the last of the edible pod peas. Since the rabbits and/or squirrels killed most of the Edible Pod Pea plants, the few remaining plants have yielded only a few handfuls of peas, which I have been washing and eating raw.

This morning, while enjoying my view of the back yard from the porch, I decided to try to identify some of the weeds that constitute our “lawn”. Plantain is prominent close to the porch, along with Wild Violets, Dandelions, and Bindweed. We have several huge Catnip plants in the yard, one near the back fence, and the other up against the porch. Further out there are Wild Strawberries, Purslane, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Crabgrass, a variety of other native grasses, one huge blooming Elecampane, Hawkweed, White Clover, Michaelmas Daisy, Burdock, one large Jacob’s Ladder, Common Mallow, Ragweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Chicory. On a cooler day I may go out into the yard for a closer look, to hunt down other plant species that live there.

It is just too hot to attempt activities like visiting a park, shopping, taking a country drive. When 23C feels like sitting in a refrigerator, you know it is hot outside.

It is a statutory holiday here in Ontario. But the poor fellas working on the new subdivision are not enjoying it. They are working hard, and making a lot of noise while doing it. I can’t imagine what is like for them today, toiling in the hot sun, in this heat and humidity.

Ontario peaches are on sale at our local grocery, so on Saturday we purchased a 4 quart basket. They were a bit green, but this morning they are perfectly ripe. Attila has been eating them out of hand, and I have peeled two to make myself a peach smoothie for my lunch. I love peach season in Ontario! We grew a few peaches on the farm where I grew up, but the best peaches were on the trees at my paternal Grandparents farm. There is no peach for sale in a retail outlet that can compare with a juicy ripe peach picked fresh from, and eaten in the shade of, a peach tree.

Wishing you all comfort, wherever you are. Safety from the fires raging across many areas of the Northern Hemisphere, the stifling heat in some areas, and many other environmental challenges that plague Mother Earth during this record-breaking summer.

Weather Perspective

“A humidex over 40 is considered to be extreme and Environment Canada recommends that all unnecessary outdoor activity be curtailed under those conditions. When the humidex reaches the mid to upper 30s, rigorous outdoor activity should be reduced with special attention paid to the age and health of the individual.”

“As oppressive as the humidex has been this summer, it has been worse in Canada in the past. On June 20, 1953, Windsor Ontario had a humidex of 52.1 and on July 25, 2007, Carman, Manitoba reached 53.0.”

Humidex and Degree Chart of Comfort

Source: https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/humidex-vs-heat-index-whats-the-difference/10243

The humidex is the heat the body percieves and reacts to, so that a humidex of 43C will, in theory, have the same effect on the body as 43C temperature where there is no effect on the body due to humidity. For the purposes of our body’s needs, a humidex temperature is comparable to an actual temperature where humidity is not a factor for the body.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

33°C (34°C at the Rideau Camp)
Date: 1:45 PM EDT Monday 6 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 29.6°C
Dew point: 23.7°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: SSW 18 gust 30 km/h
Humidex: 42 (43 at the Rideau Camp)
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.”
Alice Walker
1944 –

Hula Hoe

A while back Kate (hey Kate!) described the hoe she uses to weed her beautiful flower garden. It looked like a great hoe, and I had never seen anything like it before. Well, I finally got around to looking for something similar. I finally found one that seems the same, a Hula Hoe, called by many other names.

My reason for pursuing this now is that the garden is almost overwhelmed with weeds. Attila is the gardener here. He has been working on the garage roof project since late June. It is a huge project, and he has been working on it almost every waking hour that he has not been at work. At the same time we experienced a very dry four or five weeks, almost a drought, which was hard on the garden. Attila took time off from his roof project to water his garden. There just wasn’t any time left for weeding.

I have arthritic knees, there will be no kneeling to work on the garden for me. I also have back and shoulder issues, less serious, but serious enough that bending down to weed causes enough pain to require medication. I was not going to be weeding the garden. I have suggested many times that raised beds would allow me to participate in gardening, but Attila has not liked the idea. The upshot is that the garden has not been weeded since mid-June.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

There are some very big weeds in the garden, and mats of smaller weeds.

What to do!

This morning I decided to try to find the hoe that Kate described, and as soon as I found it, out we went to purchase it. This evening, after the sun had sunk below the horizon, I ventured into the garden with my new hoe. I weeded about two-thirds of the garden, without breaking a sweat, and only bending down a few times. This hoe is a miracle tool! Well, it is for an old gal like me who can’t get down on the ground to tend the plants.

This hoe is a game changer here at Mist Cottage. There are still quite a few home renovation projects to be tackled, all of them will be tackled by Attila. This Hula Hoe will allow me to gently tackle some of the landscaping, some of the gardening. And I will enjoy it!

August 5, 2018

Another stinker of a day, too hot to do anything out-of-doors, except find shade and try to keep breathing.

I took my morning coffee out onto the back porch where, although the air was very humid, it was quite pleasant. I sat for an hour or so, watching the birds, the clouds, and the movement of shadows as the sun lumbered into the sky.

Eventually Attila awoke, made his morning coffee and came out onto the porch too. After revelling for a few hours, in the luxury of sitting around, we decided to work on the garden. Attila didn’t favour my chances of lasting very long, and how right he was. After about thirty minutes I was unable to continue, and feeling a bit frantic, so I decided to head into the coolness of Mist Cottage. I had to cold cloths to cool my body down. The garden looks a little better, and I recovered relatively quickly, within 15 minutes I felt comfortable again. Without the air-conditioned escape, I would not have cooled down until the heat wave subsides. Note to self, no air conditioning, no vigorous activity during heat waves.

Attila spent the rest of his day finishing off the back wall studs in the garage, building shelves between the studs, and painting the back wall. One step closer to completion. Blocking between the rafters, trim around the new window, and odd bits of flashing and trim on the roof, and more painting, still need to be completed. I think though, that after this weekend, if a day of decent weather presents itself on a weekend, activities other than working on the garage roof can be prioritized.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

HEAT WARNING
27°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 5 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 26.6°C
Dew point: 20.9°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: S 18 km/h
Humidex: 35
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“True humor is fun – it does not put down, kid, or mock. It makes people feel wonderful, not separate, different, and cut off. True humor has beneath it the understanding that we are all in this together.”
Hugh Prather

A Long Heat Wave

The heat wave seems to be lasting FOREVER! Another stinker of a day out there.

Attila only has one day off this weekend, today. Today is the day the last of the back wall comes out of the garage. All morning the house vibrated as he sawed off the last of the studs and sheathing and siding. By tonight new studs and sheathing and siding will be installed, and probably the new siding will be painted. Tearing out the rotting back wall wasn’t on the list of tasks for replacing the garage roof, a project that is not finished yet. Securing the back rotting wall was on the list. The way Attila figured it, it was the same amount of work to tear out and replace the wall, as it was to secure it against the weather, AND a secured wall would still be rotten and mouldy and need to be replaced. He saved himself about a week of work by skipping securing the wall, and rebuilding it now.

He is out there in the heat and humidity, working away, happily. He is experiencing intense relief, getting this nightmare project underway, and today removing the last of the rotting, mouldy wood and insulation. He is claiming his space, and as miserable as it has been; the pressure to remove the old roof and get another on to keep the rain out; the misery of removing rotting, mouldy materials; working in the extreme heat of the very long heat wave we have been experiencing… well as miserable as all that has been and still is, he comes up into the kitchen for a coffee, soaked to the skin, with a big grin on his face.

open section in back wall

The last section of the back wall to be replaced with new studs, sheathing and siding. Attila reckons that this will be closed in and painted by the end of the day.

I baked bread yesterday, on the back porch. Today, Sunday, Attila is tackling an electric-tool-intense day of work, so the one exterior electric outlet is all his. The Instant Pot, and the air source heat pump to cool the air, will allow indoor cooking in reasonable comfort. The hydro is half the price during the weekend, so this luxury isn’t going to set us back too much on our hydro bill. It is an added expense of replacing the garage roof.

Well, that’s us here at Mist Cottage. Attila renovating, me writing this, keeping the kitchen clean, planning and preparing another hot meal in the Instant Pot, paying bills, updating web sites… lots of this n’ that in my daily life. And of course, our friends, the mosquitoes (they survive hot dry weather just fine), the bumblebees (beautiful!), the goldfinches, the robins, the grackles, the cardinals, the squirrels, the chipmunks, the rabbits, and lots of life we are not really aware of that surrounds us.

I’ve tried and tried to give up thinking and writing “us”. I might just have to accept failure on this one, as long as Attila and I are living in the same dwelling. It isn’t the same “us” it was last summer, not at all, but it is an “us” of another kind.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

26°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Sunday 15 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 26.0°C
Dew point: 21.3°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Humidex: 35
Visibility: 24 km
Mainly sunny. High 30 except 26 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 38. UV index 9 or very high.

Quote

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
Mahatma Gandhi
1869 – 1948

Hot Today, Even Hotter Tomorrow

We are experiencing a heat wave. The garden loves it. Rain came last night after darkness fell, a short but torrential rain. Attila and I stood in the garage, with a single light bulb shining, checking for leaks, for water, for drip, drip, drip. Nothing. Just the sound of thundering rain on a metal roof. Beautiful.

There is still much to be done, Attila is determined to keep focused until the project is complete. I am determined to continue the support system so that he can maintain that very singular focus.

If we had hired someone to do this job, it would not have taken so long. There would have been a crew. They would have had the proper equipment to do the job. They would have had the experience to be efficient in their process of tackling the job. And it would have taken them a week or more to do it. And it wouldn’t have been done to our satisfaction to the degree that is being done. And it would have cost so much that we would be in debt to pay for it for years and years to come.

Attila is doing a great job, over the last 16 days of this garage roof replacement! Sweat equity is very apt in this instance.

Today an attempt will be made to research and think through the rabbit situation. I wish them no harm, but they are harming our food supply, in going about their natural affairs. The goal is to block their access to our beans and peas, what is left of them. Attila is far too busy at the moment to take on fencing the part of the yard where the garden is planted. I am not willing to take on a fencing project myself, while busy taking care of things while Attila is totally focused elsewhere. For now, additional fencing is not the solution. Chicken wire and garden stakes might work. I am wondering if a series of trellises on the inside of the fence, a foot or more from the fence, that the peas and beans can climb, would work. I’ll be visiting the dollar store to see what I can find in the way of trellises, and/or netting, and/or chicken wire… it can’t hurt to try things that might not work, but seem that they might, as long as they are not costly experiments.

After having spent the day yesterday in the kitchen, cooking, baking, and cleaning, there is sufficient food to take us through the next few days, perhaps even to the end of the heat wave. I find that during the extreme heat I am better served by light meals, avoiding sugar and salt and cholesterol as usual. Attila needs sugar and salt, because he exerts himself and sweats, so his diet needs sweets (Rhubarb Crisp), and salty foods (Nachos With Salsa and Sour Cream). Attila has been well fed through this renovation project, and he is very appreciative.

I have always enjoyed food preparation, and food preservation. I have a wonderful cook book collection, from the pre-digital age, and quite a digital collection of recipes and information as well. For most people the home is the most important space in their lives, and find homes, how people make them, and maintain them, fascinating. Home is a basic human need, and a wonderful human concept.

I received my first bill from the domain host, and it is very confusing. I need to clarify things with them, I might have misunderstood their charges when I made the decision to switch hosts. If I have misunderstood, it will have a profound effect on how my online existence is structured, major changes will be in order. This is a call that I am internally resistant to making, but needs must, the call will have to be made. If I did not misunderstand, and things are as I understood them to be, then it will come as a huge relief.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Tuesday 3 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.8°C
Dew point: 17.6°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: NNW 7 km/h
Humidex: 29
Visibility: 24 km
dateDetailed Forecast
Today Sunny. High 31 except 28 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 38. UV index 9 or very high.

Quote

“Unless I accept my faults, I will most certainly doubt my virtues.”
Hugh Prather