The Busy Season: Urbansteading

The Busy Season: Urbansteading

Saturday, July 24, 2021

I have my new glasses, and they are quite wonderful! I was told that my eyes had not changed very much since my last pair of glasses, which means that my eyes have not changed much since 2013. That is good news indeed. I am enjoying seeing the world without a section of reality blurred and obscured by the big scratch on the lenses of the pair I’ve just replaced.

The garden has been supplying us with fresh food, but very little in quantity for preservation. Fresh we have enjoyed weeks and weeks of green salads, using our leaf and Romaine lettuces, Swiss Chard, Beets and Greens, Peas, Kohlrabi and Leaves, and Garlic. We have preserved by freezing Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kohlrabi leaves, Basil, and Cabbage. Tomorrow three more Cabbages will be harvested, and I will can Coleslaw. This will be the first garden canning project of the season. The garden is coming in a little late this year, our spring was very cold, followed by warmth and a period of drought. Now we have adequate rain, so the growing things are taking heart and beginning to thrive. Attila is out there right now planting another bed of Carrots, and more Kohlrabi.

Last year we discovered Kohlrabi. What a great discovery this has been for us. It grows well here. The bulbs are eaten as fast as Attila can harvest them, cooked and mashed with potatoes. The leaves are very fibrous and tough, the texture is not all that palatable. Last year I decided they would be better used a roof shingles. This year however, I discovered a way to enjoy them, as they taste very good. After slicing them into one inch in diameter pieces, they are cooked in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes. They are then cooled, and frozen in one cup quantities. When I am making an Instant Pot casserole, I take out the frozen Kohlrabi leaves, chop them even finer while they are frozen, and cook them again with the casserole. They enhance some tastes, such as hot pepper, and brown sugar, which is lovely. They are chopped so fine that the texture is not noticed. As time goes on we discover new and delightful plants for the garden, and find ways to utilize them fully.

This morning I processed the Kohlrabi leaves and froze them. Then Attila brought in a basket of fresh Basil from the garden, so I made a batch of Pesto for the freezer, enough for six meals. It is frozen in a muffin pan, each cup holds a perfect amount for one meal. We like to eat Pesto with Cheese Tortellini, it is one of our favourite “junk food” indulgences. Then we were off to the Optometrist’s clinic to pick up my new glasses. It was an hour’s drive to get there, and an hour back, with a fifteen minute fitting in between.

Arriving home, Attila was back in his garden, determined to use all available daylight to get things done. Dinner took quite a while to prepare, Beets in the Instant Pot, Kohlrabi and Potatoes in the Instant Pot, and homemade Salmon Patties on homemade 66% Whole Wheat Bread. The Salmon Patties are new to us. We had always enjoyed fish patties, purchased from the grocery store. But the price doubled on us, which inspired me to look for an alternative, and while I was at it, for a healthier alternative. I came upon recipes for Salmon Patties on the internet, and decided to give them a try. We love them! I make six of them at a time, and freeze them in quantities of two. When we want Salmon Burgers, two frozen, Salmon Patties are cooked in the air fryer at 350F for 12 minutes. It is like eating junk food, but it is healthy!

Because the bag of wheat berries being used at present have a high percentage of bran, I have needed to add regular white bread flour to my bread to get it to rise normally. I’ve been making Whole Wheat Bread for years now, using my own milled flour, and this is the first time the flour has contained too much bran. So although my bread is technically 66% whole wheat, I think it is probably the equivalent of 100% whole wheat of the past years. Mother nature is like that, good years, bad years, bumper years, failed years. Our motto is adjust to what is, and carry on.

Today was a busy day, and a very satisfying day.

Tomorrow will be busy again. When I arise I will begin making bread. Then the harvested cabbages will be made into canned Coleslaw. I pressure canned Farmer’s Soup last week, using purchased onions, carrots, and potatoes. The canned Coleslaw will be my first steam canning project for the 2021 harvest season, and the first canning project from garden produce. The annual first batches of canning take a little extra time and care, as I review my notes on techniques, and the recipes. This gets easier ever year.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Yesterday was even busier than anticipated! Attila spent his day helping with vegetable chopping, and planting more Cabbage. The Cabbage is planted in beds prepared with with landscape fabric, to keep the weeds under control. Hoops are then placed at intervals down the row. Finally the hoops are covered with garden fabric, which thus far has been preventing the Cabbage Moths from laying eggs to produce Cabbage Worms, which destroy the plants.

By 6:30 a.m. the bread was rising. Attila brought in the Cabbages from the garden. Six Cabbages were harvested, and that was the lot. The rest of the day was spent canning three batches of coleslaw, which was 20 jars. Two small and one large Cabbage remained. The electric slicer was used to slice the cabbage, on a three tenths of an inch setting, it was perfect. Carrots from the garden were used; onions and peppers from the grocery store were used. Vintage black mustard seed was used for the Coleslaw this year, one of the few lingering bits of ingredients from days gone by, that need using up. The first day of canning, where I spend eight or more hours on my feet in the kitchen, is always tiring. Stamina usually develops slowly, so that one week into preservation season I can go the distance without any discomfort. I certainly slept well.

This morning by 6:00 a.m. I was back in the kitchen, labeling the Coleslaw jars, then washing them to remove any bits of food that might cause problems during storage. One the second batch I had run out of syrup, so I added vinegar and water. Since the proportion of acid to vegetable was thus altered, I decided that these would be canned and refrigerated for immediate use. Tattler reusable lids were used on those two jars. I was surprised that they sealed, because I did not heat them before applying them to the jars, as per instructions. All of the metal lids sealed of course, Bernardin lids always seal, a 100% success rate. Tattlers are less reliable, and the process is more complicated, but as I gain experience with them failed seals are decreasing.

After dealing with the jars of Coleslaw, activity was focused on packaging the frozen Pesto, labeling the packages, and returning them to the freezer.

Rather than can more Coleslaw today, I decided to use the two smaller cabbages to make Sauerkraut. We have had mixed success with fermentation. My very first batch of Sauerkraut, a few years ago, was outstanding. After that every batch failed, and interest faded. Giving it another try, a one litre jar of Sauerkraut was prepared this morning, and has been set to ferment in a box in the hallway, to keep the light out. So far this summer house has been kept at a comfortable 22.5C. Ideally the temperature should not be warmer than 21C for fermentation. The thermostat has been turned down to 21C until the fermentation either fails or succeeds, whichever comes first. Here is a helpful video from Caroline on how to make Sauerkraut in a mason jar.

Once the Sauerkraut project was done and dusted it was time to move on to baking muffins for Attila’s lunches. This morning he appeared with a package of frozen garden Rhubarb, requesting Rhubarb Muffins. So out came the bowl and spoon this morning, and the flour and the oats, and spices and eggs, and milk. Rhubarb Muffins for Attila it is.

The new glasses are marvelous! Opting for a larger lens area in this pair, much more of the world can be viewed in focus without moving my head. The world seems a little “crisper” than it did. The downside is that the larger lens reveals and amplifies the bags under my eyes, making me look older than I did, but not older than I am. A small price to pay for comfort.

Since the air quality is so low today, and it is so hot and humid out of doors, I am grateful to busy in my kitchen, with the thermometer set to 21C!

Stay safe dear friends.

Worldly

Weather

Updated on Sat, Jul 24, 8:15 PM
23 °C
FEELS LIKE 27
Overcast
Wind 12 S km/h
Humidity 69 %
Visibility 23 km
Sunrise 5:47 AM
Wind gust 18 km/h
Pressure 101.1 kPa
Ceiling 3400 m
Sunset 8:40 PM

Updated on Mon, Jul 26, 12:15 PM
28 °C
FEELS LIKE 34
Clear
Wind 15 W km/h
Humidity 53 %
Visibility 17 km
Sunrise 5:48 AM
Wind gust 23 km/h
Pressure 101.1 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 8:39 PM

ALERTS IN EFFECT
Special Air Quality Statement
Issued at 10:55 Monday 26 July 2021
Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility. Smoke is expected or occurring.
High levels of air pollution due to smoke from forest fires are possible today. Smoke plumes may move over southern Ontario from forest fires in northwestern Ontario. Air quality may deteriorate if the smoke descends to ground level.
If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can be harmful to your health.
For more details, please consult www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-quality-health-index/wildfire-smoke.html.
ndividuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.
Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.
Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

Quote

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

NOTE:
Urbandsteading is a word I just made up to describe how Attila and I are living. If we had more land, fewer municipal restrictions, and more time, we would be doing a lot more for ourselves, but as things stand we are happy with what we have and can do. I looked up urbansteading on Google and nothing at all was found, so as far as I know, I’ve invented a new word. However, the concept is as old as urban living on planet earth.

10 Comments

  1. Teri

    Wow. Those are some impressive cabbages! I really don’t think cabbages would turn out that well if I planted them. I’ve had luck with carrots and green beans years back but when I tried watermelon and cantaloupe, I ended up with zero cantaloupe and a watermelon the size of a softball.

    Glad to hear you were able to replace your glasses!

  2. Teri, Attila is a good gardener, and this particular property is good for growing brassicas, it is a winning combination. Not every thing grows well here, and every year is a little different, some years certain things thrive, and other years other things thrive. Last year we had oodles of cucumbers, and this year we have hardly any. Nature is full of surprises, so it is always interesting. I am not the gardener that Attila is, so I am thankful he loves it so much.
    The glasses are a real relief!
    Stay safe dear friend!

  3. I’m so glad you were able to get new glasses!

    I agree, impressive cabbages! I don’t think I’ve ever had Kohlrabi? Unless it comes in those salad mixes we get? Good use of the no doubt healthy but not tasty stuff.

  4. Thanks Joan! I love the new glasses, and I am discovering that they make a difference in the kitchen where I am looking down at the counter all the time.
    We are trying to use everything we grow, and what we do not use goes into the compost bin to enrich the soil next growing season. If we decide the Kohlrabi leaves are just too tough for chewing, I have a few more tricks to try. One is to dehydrate them using the dehydrator, then powder them for adding to casseroles. The other is to bake them to dehydrate them, a different flavour, and then powder them for casseroles. It is an exploration, and eventually we will find the way to process them that suits us best. I am hoping to expand our greens with a late summer planting of spinach, beets, and lettuce again for salads. The weather is unusual though, so who knows what will work and what will not. Learning new things.
    Stay safe dear friend.

  5. Teri

    Oh! I did forget to say something about kohlrabi. It was a favorite in my family and I do still make it when I see it. It is rather hard to find in the grocery store, though. You can find fruits and veggies from the far reaches of the world but veggies that came over from Europe with our ancestors, not so much. 😉

    Glad you and Attila continue to do well. Stay safe!

  6. Teri, how did your family prepare the Kohlrabi? We cook it with the potatoes in the Instant Pot and mash them all together, super nutritious and tasty mashed potatoes. I haven’t tried them any other way yet. I haven’t found Kohlrabi in the stores here, thank goodness we can grow it! Attila has just planted a second crop.
    Stay safe dear friend!

  7. Let’s see those new glasses!
    Mine are still at the optometrist; I’m working fulltime this week and next and maybe the week after, so don’t know when I can drive to Humboldt to get them. Like yours, they have larger frames — so I hope, as you say, that the larger lense will mean less rising and lowering of my eyes in order to see. That will be a big bonus.
    Your gardening and processing feats impress me!
    -Kate

  8. Kate, I am not one much for selfies, but I’ll see what I can do about getting an image of the new glasses. Rural living has some challenges, like travelling to the optometrists office, or other services. So far my glasses are great for vision, but the fit of the eye pads is off, and I am loath to travel again to get them adjusted. Will have to try to do it myself I think!
    The gardening feats are Attila’s, the preserving feats are mine, hobbies with benefits. Your bread baking has always impressed me!

  9. Teri

    My family peeled, cut in half, and sliced the kholrabi and then boiled it until tender. We put some butter on it and served it with the melted butter. Basically the same way you’d serve cooked carrots.

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