You Gotta Laugh

Five more jars of Organic Green Tomato Salsa, canned Friday, October 18, 2019. They are made with our very own garden Jalapeno Peppers. That makes 15 jars of Salsa in total. I use a China Marker to label my jars, with content and date processed.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Early last week I ran into a problem with a piece of software on one of my older Macs. It was a result of an incompatible update, which had auto-updated. I began interacting with tech support for the software company, the issue was escalated to more technical support team. I interacted with them for days, tried all their suggestions, and nothing worked. The old Mac just would not connect to the internet. I feared its functional life was over.

Frustrated with the software tech support, this morning I got out of bed, immediately setup the computer, and started to play around. I kept playing around for over an hour, then I found the issue and fixed it. It was a setting buried deep in the software, which needed only to be toggled off, which let me connect to the internet, which let me update the software to get rid of the issue. It is a wonder the tech support didn’t start with that setting when they were troubleshooting with me! I feel very satisfied that I fixed the problem, despite, and not because of, technical support.

Today is an apple day. I am finally sitting down, after being on my feet since 9:00 a.m., it is just after noon now. One half bushel of apples has been peeled, cored, diced, and is now sitting in pots on the stove, on a low heat, turning itself into applesauce. Attila peeled, I cored, sectioned, and diced. I hope we get to the other half bushel today, but I don’t hold out much hope. Sixteen quarts of apples are going to take some time to cook into applesauce, and can.

These Northern Spy apples are very dense. Water needs to be added at regular intervals when it is being cooked and made into applesauce. Stirring it is hard work, and it cooks very slowly, so there is a lot of stirring. My arm and wrist are very sore.

The peels and cores are being saved to make apple cider vinegar. Our first batch, made last fall with crab apples, is fantastic. So we are in high hopes that these apple scraps will give us some wonderfully flavoured apple cider vinegar.

Just shy of a half bushel of Northern Spy Apples, peeled, cored, and sectioned. It was the first time I’ve used this coring/slicing device (two red handles), and it is very handy. The apples are first peeled, the stem and calyx ends are removed. Then the corer is placed on top of the apple, and pushed down to core and slice it.

Here are the cores, and the bits of apple that surround the seeds, which were removed from the slices with a paring knife, where needed. We froze these scraps from the first bushel of apples. The peels went into the compost pile. It is my dream to find affordable organic apples to use for applesauce. So far so bad on that score. We do not use the peels of these commercially grown apples.
OK, here is where my best laid plans failed. And a spectacular failure it was!
I was sitting in the living room, taking a little break while the apples began to heat on the stove. I was pretty tired, and more than a little tetchy at the time, the break was needed. Time out for Maggie.
Anyway, I heard a noise in the kitchen.
I thought Attila was in there, so I called out his name.
No answer, the noise continued.
So I sighed, dragged myself up out of my chair, and headed into the kitchen.
And this is what I saw.
Now the picture does not show it, but this body of apples was steadily rising, like a volcano, and apple segments were falling all over the place, the floor, the stove, everywhere.
Laugh.
I couldn’t stop laughing.
I laughed so hard it was difficult to deal with the issue. Every time I touched the tower of apples, they launched off the precipice.
What a mess!
And the bottom apples were burning, that much I could tell from the smell.
Eventually I managed to get enough of the apples off the top of the pile, so that I could put the spoon handle down into the pot.
A huge rush of air came out of the pot, spewing apple segments, then what remained of the pile collapsed into the pot.
I spent the next hour or so collecting and rinsing apple segments from all over the kitchen. Then I washed the floor and other surfaces, because apples are sticky.
After removing all of the apples from the pot to other pots, except the bottom layer, which was burnt, I cleaned out the pot, and prepared to start again.
I used three stock pots, with an extra liter of water in each pot, to cook these apples into applesauce.
It took over five hours of stirring frequently to make the applesauce.
After having such a hearty laugh, I wasn’t feeling tetchy anymore.

Monday, October 21, 2019

This morning the fog was thick and the air was chill.

It got busy around here after I wrote Saturday’s entry. I added the photographs and wrote the captions today.

Sunday Attila peeled all but a dozen or so apples from the second half bushel. I cored, and processed them in the food processor. They took about four hours to cook, using two large stock pots, even though the apple pieces were pea size. And I had to add a little more than 4 litres of water to keep them from becoming too thick to stir. Wow, I don’t remember Northern Spys being so difficult to cook. Attila thinks it is due to the very dry summer we have had this year, so there is not much moisture in them, and they are very dense.

I ended up with 5 more quarts of applesauce for the shelf, which were washed, labelled and put away on the basement shelf this morning.

The apple cores, and bits that didn’t make into the applesauce pot, were placed in a 5 liter fermenting crock. After covering them with a water/sugar mixture, I added a few tablespoons of active apple cider vinegar. A clean cotton cloth was placed over the crock, which was secured against fruit flies, and other interested parties, with an elastic band. This will be stirred every morning for two weeks. Then the liquid will be strained from the fruit and returned to the crock to turn itself into cider, then vinegar.

My next canning project presented itself to me yesterday. I was about to make dinner, an Instant Pot rice dish with turkey and hot chili, very tasty. But I suddenly realized that all of my vegetable broth was frozen! Oh dear, I had to thaw it slowly in the microwave, adding quite a bit of bother to the meal preparation.

I started making vegetable broth from vegetable scraps in August, when our garden started to deliver a lot of fresh produce. A total of about 10 quarts have been made since then, five of them I have used already for cooking. The other 5 are still in quart jars in the freezer. I was so busy with canning and roasting and drying and fermenting, and the broth was being produced only a quart at a time, that it just seemed more practical to freeze the small quantities vegetable broth.

But frozen vegetable broth does not work well for my style of cooking!

So today I have five quarts of frozen vegetable broth thawing on the counter. Once I can get it out of the jars, I will put it into the 16 quart soup pot, boil it for 10 minutes, then can it in 500-ml jars. Then it will be sitting ready to use on the shelf when I need it, no forethought required. These will be pressure canned.

Attila loved the Fermented Jalapeno Peppers I made for him. They are all gone now. We have a few ferments on the go, green tomatoes, and Brussels Sprout leaves. Attila also has a ferment of his own on the go, hot peppers. Yesterday he started yet another ferment, green cherry tomatoes, with fresh coriander seeds and garlic. Fermenting is easy. But we did have a failure, the second batch of sauerkraut. We will try another batch of Sauerkraut when the fermenting crock is free again, as it is now being used to make Apple Cider Vinegar.

And still there are things to preserve! There are about 20 pounds of tomatoes ripening in the basement. Thankfully all of the tomatoes have been harvested now, no more coming in from the garden. The Swiss Chard was harvested as well, and it will be processed tonight, probably blanched and frozen. BUT Attila says the Swish Chard has not given up, and it is growing like crazy right now, so there might be another harvest. There are some small cabbages that grew from the roots of the earlier harvested cabbage plants. And there are six more Brussels Sprout plants to harvest, Brussels Sprouts and leaves. And beets, lets not forget the beets that are still to be harvested.

Three months of steady food preservation activity. And I have so many conveniences, choppers, shredders, pickle pipes and pucks, a fermenting crock…

I do this because I choose to do it, because it is a hobby with benefits, lots and lots of benefits.

But can you imagine having to do this for a family with many children, on a wood stove… before all this modern technology, because someone HAD to do it, to be on the home front making sure the food supply didn’t spoil. This work was a respected part of the art of survival.

Worldly

Weather

11°C
Date: 11:37 AM EDT Monday 21 October 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 10.5°C
Dew point: 10.5°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: NE 13 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
1929 – 1968

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10 Responses to You Gotta Laugh

  1. Eileen Barton says:

    Maggie, I get exhausted just reading about all the work that goes into preserving your garden produce. I can only imagine how exhausting it is for you to do it all. 🙂 I do love reading about it.

  2. Eileen, I must admit I am having the time of my life, lol.
    Now that they are cooked and canned, I am feeling a good kind of tired.

  3. WendyNC says:

    Oh, my stars. That apple “volcano” sounds like a real disaster and I’m glad you were able to see the humor in it. I’m also glad not to be reading that you were burned in the process. Although I’m not an alarmist, when I first got to that part of the entry, I feared it would lead on to hot, sticky bits landing on exposed skin. I was relieved that it was “just” a major mess.

    As for your coring/slicing device, we have a couple of lower quality ones and they’re known as “apple whackers” in our house. They certainly make the process easier and quicker.

  4. Wendy the apples that were flying around the kitchen were still room temperature, the heat couldn’t escape the density of the bottom cooked apples and the steam just kept ballooning, and they kept rising. Luckily the spoon is a very, very long one, just for this particular deep pot. so the handle reached down below the layers of room temperature apples to release the steam. It came up in a puff through the hole I poked, missed me by a mile, cause I knew it was coming. So I was in little danger. I wear long sleeved shirts when I am cooking and canning, they help prevent burns from flying bits.
    Oh, I like that, Apple Whacker!

  5. Teri says:

    I commend you for holding onto your frustration with the help desk for your Mac, I’ve had similar frustrating times and have periodically found I know more than the first line of support – and I’m not even close to highly trained.

    It made me smile, to hear of your laughing at the apple volcano. There are few things better than people who can find humor in normally frustrating situations.

    You’ve had so much going on, you’ll probably be quite bored come winter with your garden sleeping under a layer of snow.

  6. Teri, the tech support situation was frustrating! I was escalated twice, so I think by the time I got it solved i was talking to programmers. I have my own way of doing things, so I bump into software glitches frequently. I am a very handy customer to have, lots of free software testing. They had not run into the issue that afflicted me, so I am hoping that they fix the glitch. However, now that I know how to address it, it won’t bother me again. Somebody else though, might just fall into it like I did.

    You are right on the money about being bored when the food preservation season is over. I’m not quite there yet, still about 15 pounds of apples to cook with, and another big batch of pizza sauce to make when the tomatoes in the basement ripen. And the other vegetables still in the garden waiting to come in, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Swiss Chard, and Beets. BUT I have a plan. I have a sewing project in mind, another apron. I’ve almost worn out my apron, and I am still after the ideal for me apron pattern. That should keep me occupied for a while. Sewing is not my first love, food is, but I am good at it, and it is a lot cheaper than trying to buy something that is of a quality that I could make. So the sewing machine will be coming out at some point, probably when the dead of winter sets in, in January.

  7. Teri says:

    That’s interesting, what would you look for in the ideal for you apron?

  8. I have a few idiosyncratic things I am looking for in an apron.
    I do not want to have to put it on over my head.
    I do not want the shoulders to slip, they need to be securely fitted.
    I want pockets in the front of the apron.
    And of course high quality cotton fabric, constructed with decent stitching and thread quality.

    Most aprons I find have a neck band that fits over the head, I have a headache within minutes with those aprons. The one I made is a front and back panel, but I have to put it on over my head, which I truly disike.
    I actually saw a wonderful apron at a farm shop, made in China, go figure, and I am thinking of trying to design one like it. Attila said to buy it, but at $60 and made in China, poor quality stitching, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it.

  9. Margarett says:

    I have not been intentionally ignoring you, my new friend. The Apple Experience and your reaction had me laughing OUT LOUD!!!! On Saturday, I had an episode of losing what little is left of my mind. I decided I would work on Meredith’s Afghan. Well,I have a little plastic box, with a lid, that I keep all of my tools in… could not find it. I searched everywhere…ended up dusting my bookshelves, which also holds my huge collection of CD’s..thought maybe I had stored the box behind some books, which makes no sense. I was re-searching everyplace it could be 2-3 times. Finally after 2 hours, I found the box….in a new sewing bag given to me by a friend. DUH. Then I got the Afghan out, and I don’t like it. At all. The design, the colors, nothing about it. So I will be starting her a new one. Mind you, I am at the edging point of the afgan that I don’t like. So one of our doggies will get a new one for their crate ( their house). I just have to say to them….go get in your house and they go running for their bed. So I will be starting her something soon. Then this morning, I had a rhizotomy on the right side of my lower back…all the discs from L1 to S4 got zapped. Not sure what anesthesia they used, but I got home and slept until 6 pm. I suffered a fall in 2003 and fractured 9 bones in my pelvis; and with all my years of nursing, my back is a holy mess. The fall was more a crash, on my tiled kitchen floor. Slipped on water spilled from doggie bowl. Anyway, our high tomorrow is high 30’s to low 40’s. You may have heard about the tornadoes that hit Dallas on Sunday….they hit the historical area….HUGE trees and mansion homes. So very sad. My doctor is very close to the area hit, and it truly looks like bombs went off. ( same area that president Bush lives in. ) To make matters worse, so far we have gotten over 2” of rain today, and it is still raining. This adds insult to all of the damage. Maybe the sound of rain contributed to my excellent sleep all day. Over the next few weeks! I get my colonoscopy, the girls smashed ( mamo) and the left sided rhizotomy. At least I don’t have dental checkup!!! Stay well and take care….

  10. Hello Margarett. Wow, what an eventful fall you are having, between proceedures, weather, and spending time with your books. I think the doggies will enjoy the afghan. I wonder if doggie vision will alter the colours in such a way to make them attractive to the dogs. Too bad they can’t talk 🙂
    The weather sounds dreadful! Glad to know your home is not damaged, and that you are safe!
    Your next few weeks sound very challenging, and I hope you get the best of care as you navigate through the surgery and all of the appointments. Colonoscopies are one of my least favourite things to have done, and yet, they serve such a useful purpose. Soon it will all be behind you, couldn’t resist that 🙂