Pork n Beans Two

Monday, October 6, 2014

A quiet day has sped by, once again. After chatting with Attila, I enjoyed a cup of coffee and some apple crisp for breakfast. Then I headed down to the basement to turn off the dehumidifier, and flip the breaker off for the hot water heater. The price of hydro goes up at 7:00 a.m., got to beat the meter!

The sunrise was beautiful, it came and was gone again before I knew it. I just went to the sink to rinse my coffee cup, and when I got back to the table the colours were gone, and the sky was grey in the morning light.

I spent quite a bit of time in the morning looking for canning jars. We have used canning jars for canisters, and for food storage, for many years. I found all of the 500 lm canning jars, checked each rim for chips, there were none, moved the contents from each to empty washed and saved jars, from previously purchased food. Then the canning jars were washed and ready for another canning session. New lids were counted out of the package, and matching used rings were set aside for the project.

Not all the ingredients needed were here at the little house in the city, so a shopping trip was in order. Of course, I found some items I could not resist. I bought two hams that would expire tomorrow, and so were half price, to be frozen immediately. I bought two cabbages at 39 cents a pound, locally grown. I bought my tomato juice and allspice for the pork n beans, and returned home.

After eating my lunch, I puttered around on the computer for a little while. I purchased a kitchen timer app from the Apple Store, for 99 cents. It works very well I think.

I caught another mouse, and immediately dealt with it, reset the trap and returned it in tool cupboard. No pictures were taken. That makes two mice that I have caught in the tool cupboard during this visit.

Yesterday I broke down and turned on the heat. In theory, the way the heat pump is configured, the furnace should not turn itself on unless the outdoor temperature is below 10C. Since it is a bit warmer than that outside, the heat pump should provide all of the heat. I set the thermostat to 20C and waited. Soon the house warmed from 17C to 20C. The heat pumps is working well so far! It does not run any more often than the furnace does, and uses electricity to run the compressor and the fans. The next hydro bill will tell the tale!

The afternoon was spent canning another batch of pork n beans. I made several changes, using navy rather than pinto beans, boiling and soaking the beans before they went into the jars, adding onions to the sauce, and allspice. I was a bit short of beans, so I only had eight jars to can.

Pork n Beans without the pork, Batch 2.

October 7, 2014

One week, I have been at the little house in the city for one week. While I have been away Attila has made great strides in procuring the fire wood we need for winter heat. He isn’t quite done, but the snow isn’t flying yet! I will plan another lone trip soon, to give him a chance to finish the project. I return home late this week, before the cottagers decide to head north to their seasonal properties.

After Thanksgiving it will be time to cure the masonry heater, to prepare for the heating season. Attila spent last night, until midnight, splitting the hardwood needed for the curing process. All is ready. It falls to me to cure the masonry heater, for it is not a taxing undertaking. That will be five days spent burning small fires at two, three, and four hour intervals.

At this point, with our heating preparations so far along for the coming winter, it would be almost disappointing to sell the house!

Attila and I are spending Thanksgiving, Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, with Terra and Lares, Lares’ best friend, Lares’ Grandmother, and a cacophony of dogs and cats. It should be a cozy and enjoyable weekend!

Breakfast this morning consisted of coffee, water, pork n beans, and sausage. This type of breakfast is a rare event for me, as oatmeal is my usual fare.

Breakfast, an extravagant meal, sausage, pork n beans (in the cup with the spoon sitting in it), and coffee. The giant marigolds are a cheery addition to the morning meal, they are still blooming profusely in the gardens.

Yesterday’s batch of beans were much closer to what I had in mind, but not quite. I am fussy about my beans! They are a little too dry for my taste, not enough sauce in the jar, so the recipe still needs tweaking. It seems to me that if I reduce the quantity of beans per jar, that will increase the quantity of sauce per jar. It is worth a try. For the next batch of beans, the soaked beans will be measured very carefully into the jars, different amounts in differently shaped jars, the quantities recorded, and the results compared. I will get this recipe to work the way I want it to, I will!

Again, I had 100% seals, and no siphoning. I conclude that the siphoning, at least in my case, can be avoided by removing the weight gauge very, very slowly, releasing the pressure by minute increments.

I am considering canning the cabbage I purchased this week, maybe I will, maybe I won’t! Cabbage keeps almost forever in the refrigerator, we might eat it all before I get around to canning it.

I headed out to Terra’s place for a visit today. We chatted, peeled apples that she had picked herself, to make her apple crisps, which she intended to freeze. We discovered that the oatmeal that she used for baking the apple crisps were processed in a facility where my allergen was being used. We discovered the oatmeal I bought for her has no such issue, so she is making another apple crisp for Thanksgiving dinner, one that I can eat. We had a snack, Terra had a sandwich, but all of the bread she had contained my allergen, so I decided to have a bowl of oatmeal, which is when I discovered the allergen in the oatmeal issue. Luckily I had purchased additional oatmeal for her, and I read labels so it was allergen free, so I got my bowl of oatmeal after all. We went out to her garden, and I collected all of the tomatoes she will not harvest, almost all of them are split, and have a bit of rot here and there. I picked them all, including the green ones, and the beets that Terra said they don’t want. Three bags full of tomatoes and beets! Bounty that would have been left to rot in the garden without me!

The rest of the afternoon was spent peeling and chopping tomatoes, and cleaning beets. The tomatoes were put on the range to boil down before freezing, and the beets will be cooked in a pressure cooker tomorrow, before going into the freezer. The beet greens were not very nice, but I did manage to find enough healthy looking greens for one meal, and cooked them for my supper. There were enough green tomatoes to fill a cardboard tray, which I placed near a window, where it will receive direct sunlight.

I also perused our garden and picked all of the tomatoes that had ripened over the last few days. I came away with about six quarts of tomatoes from our garden.

It was a busy day, and I was very tired by the time I had all of those vegetables either cooked, frozen, or temporarily refrigerated. Tomorrow I will finish the job!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 6 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 7.4°C
Dewpoint: 7.1°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: SE 11 km/h

Date: 8:00 AM EDT Tuesday 7 October 2014
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 14.9°C
Dewpoint: 12.4°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: SW 26 km/h


“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
Carl Sandburg
1878 – 1967

The First Time ‘Round

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The clouds were rolling by today, white and grey and dark, billowing along at a great pace. It was 8C outside this morning. The wind was brisk. The rain came, and then it went, and then it came back again. Some of it was misty, and some of it was thick. From time to time the sun came out. It was a roller coaster day.

Attila and I enjoyed a leisurely chat over our coffee, via Skype. The quality of the Skype calls leaves a lot to be desired, but we manage, at the price we pay for Skype, we manage. Attila was then off to continue bringing in firewood from the back of the property, splitting it, and stacking it in the woodshed. He now has completed four of the six rows we will need to keep the house warm. He has a full day to tackle it today, so I anticipate he will make significant headway.

Here at the little house it was little bits and bobs that captured my time, puttering again!

Terra ran her first marathon this morning!!! It was an OPP Team Challenge run, raising money for a good cause. What a girl. She just texted me with a picture of herself, at her finish line (8 km), looking radiant, yes radiant. I love the look in her eyes, just love it, she is so happy with herself. As a Mom, these were the moments I lived for, the moments that made the hard work of parenting worthy. What more could anyone want for a loved one!

The Finish Line: Terra runs a Marathon. Happy!

Terra’s run inspired me to get myself dressed in warm clothing and get out there walking. I only walk for half an hour, but it is enough to get my heart pumping and my muscles working. My knee and left leg still need to be babied a bit, by the time I arrived home I was experiencing a little bit of pain. I am considering looking for high quality walking shoes, but that will have to wait until the new year. Just as well, we will be wearing winter boots before we know it! I wore a shirt, a jacket, and a quilted vest, as well as jeans and walking shoes. I was comfortable enough, except for my hands, goodness that brisk wind was cold! Time to get out the gloves!

Yesterdays canning recipe, the molasses beans, needs a bit of tweaking. The jars all sealed, so the canning process needs no adjustments. For this first batch, the beans were merely washed, and sorted, then measured into the jars. This works wonderfully for the larger jars, but not so well for the smaller jars, because the smaller jars are cooked for a shorter period of time. As a result this first batch was short of expectation on two counts: one, the beans were cooked, but too firm for my taste; two, the sauce was watery because I had to add water to fill the jars to the one inch head space. So next time I am going to follow the instructions exactly, soaking the beans and boiling them before measuring them into the jars. The beans will be much plumper when added to the jars, so that there will be enough sauce to fill the jars to the one inch head space, no water added. This will also give the beans a head start so that they will be softer after the shorter cooking time.

I ate one jar of my molasses beans for lunch, and they are quite pleasant. However, I can do better! And I will. This first batch will be used mostly for Chili Con Carne, where the watery sauce will be boiled down to a rich and thick consistency.

One more canning session then, while I am here. It often takes several attempts, before a recipe is tweaked to my satisfaction, sometimes even more. I don’t give up though, and that is how I learned to bake bread, roll out tasty pie crusts, and do all kinds of things that didn’t work out the way I wanted them to the first time ’round, or the second, or…

Worldly Distractions


Date: 1:05 PM EDT Sunday 5 October 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.6°C
Dewpoint: 5.1°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: SSW 30 gust 39 km/h


“Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Satchel Paige
1906 – 1982

And, I could not resist the following, when I saw it, had to laugh out loud:

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”
Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000

Pork n Beans

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!

Credit Cards

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.

The morning view from the breakfast table, dreary, and yet beautiful.

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!

Nine 500 ml jars of beans in molasses sauce, aka pork n beans without the pork. So far so good, tomorrow I check the seals, and then try some of the beans. I wonder if they cooked enough, they don’t really look like it at this point, but looks can be deceiving!

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.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 3 October 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 17.0°C
Dewpoint: 14.0°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SSE 35 gust 45 km/h

Date: 5:00 PM EDT Saturday 4 October 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 13.2°C
Dewpoint: 7.3°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: WSW 33 gust 45 km/h


“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.”
Italian Proverb