Tuesday, August 24, 2010
It's been quite a while (almost a full week) since I last posted here. I have been running non-stop canning, dehydrating and freezing all and everything out of the garden. Plus, have been dealing with DH who is having a severe gout attack and can hardly walk. So all things being equal or, unequal in this case..... the blog suffered from my absence.
I am going to be short and succinct and just post photos for you to enjoy. Garlic jelly, zuke soup, spaghetti sauce, tomato water and some of the bounty of the garden are shown.
Hope everyone is well (dearest Katie who isn't well - get better soonest Honeypie) and enjoying their last month of summer.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
These past couple of days it's been all about the produce coming out of the garden. You can see by the pictures I have been a busy little bee.
The single canning jars you see are filled with salsa and a variation of Boston baked beans. Also in the picture showing off all the jars are some roasted pepper in a vinaigrette.
Then yesterday when I took my trip through the garden I was pleasantly surprised to find a laundry basket's worth of different veggies needing to be picked. There's corn, green beans (which you can't see), eggplant, cucumbers, yellow crookneck and zucchini squashes, one lone pepper and more tomatoes in the basket. Which all lead to my canning again late last night.
I got to use my brand new steam juicer last night. The steam juicer by means of hot steam breaks down the cell wall of a fruit, veggie or, meat product in the steamer basket. Allowing you to collect the delicious and mostly under used liquids of anything you can think of to steam. Think chicken = chicken broth and the most tender chicken meat due to the steam. Fruits to steam gives you clear juice for the making of jellies and the pulp to make fruit leathers from. Or, tomatoes (which is what I did last night) steamed = tomato water and tomato pulp for the making of sauce. This works to free you up without the long process of cooking down the tomatoes forever to get a thick sauce. Plus, you get this almost clear liquid to use in soup bases, cook rice in or, just to drink with a bit of Worcestershire sauce added in. This liquid during conventional cooking would have gone up in steam in the room. Now it is being saved and utilized. Can you tell I like this new gadget, my steam juicer?
After picking more tomatoes yesterday I realized something had to be done with said tomatoes. Late into the night I worked to process the pounds and pounds of tomatoes I had. I now have to add to my shelves which are definitely getting full; tomato water and spaghetti sauce.
I have today off as we are going on what we call a "road rally" to the big city. But, once I get home and if, I am not exhausted.... I am canning tonight too. Just maybe this garden is a bit big this year?
Sunday, August 15, 2010
It's time to pull the canner back out. And, I will finally be using my steam juicer too.
It pulls the water out of whatever you are steaming.
So should make the cooking and canning of the tomato products much simpler this year as the water will be gone (saving as this is wonderful drink to can also) and the thick pulp is all that is left in the steamer's basket.
I was just out in the garden and there are a ton more ripe tomatoes and peppers.
Today's the day to can I am thinking.
Tomato sauce and roasted peppers.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I can watch the sun change shadows from deep purple to gold to bright sunlight. I can hear the birds calling back and forth to each other. The cidada are humming away and peepers are quieting.
Life unfolds out there. Day by day, season by season and by paying attention, I get to know my world better. I connect in some way; my inner world meets that outer space and it's in those moments all the creating of a garden fade into the joy of being in one.
There's no way I can begin to tell you of the changing tones of the light as it slashes and unravels the night's work. Those small hints of light pushing through trees. To lengthen, to change shape and color. To dance in the wind of a moving branch.
It's a joy that goes deeply into my soul that can indeed call tears on a good day and a calm, weary smile on a bad.
Oh, I don't see the magic every morning because sometimes my head is full of other things. Of life and it's worries and cares. It is those days I regret as I grow older. It is the giving away of those precious moments to others instead of being in the now and enjoying.
This sense of soul is easily disturbed by in rushing thoughts or ideas, a sideways thought can cause me to see a cloud has gone over the light and the magic is gone. In reconnecting with the outer world, the moment and magic disappears. How sad that can be.
It's mostly OK. I know the magic is there, we've connected and life is good. That brief moment in the morning is why I garden. To breathe - in my world.
And I celebrate. In my garden, my heart and my soul.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The vegetable garden is likely to require daily harvesting now. Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers should be picked as soon as the fruits are ready. This not only captures the best flavor, but it also makes way for new fruits.
Maximum flavor of herbs for drying is achieved by cutting them just before their flowers open.
Make sure that potatoes are not escaping into the sunlight. Hill or mulch them if they are.
Trenches of new asparagus beds should receive their final filling in this month.
Remove dead pea vines, bolted lettuce, and other plants that have gone by and add them to the compost pile. If they show signs of disease, however, burn them.
Separate melons from the ground with a thin board to prevent decay or damage from wireworms.
Cut out raspberry and blackberry canes that have just finished fruiting.
After the vines die, harvest winter squash and pumpkins.
The list goes on and on. I know I have forgotten a few things but, then again, I am not perfect.
Have a wonderful day.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Had another haul of blueberries... gosh can you say, plentiful? Didn't know what I was going to do with them. The freezer is full and I have a couple of months worth of jam made for DH. Thought about pie filling. But, that means that would be the only thing to do with them. Then did some research and looking around at the USDA site for home canning and choose instead to pressure can them in a 10% syrup. Aren't they beautiful in the jar. What a glorious colour. With the blueberries canned this way I can use them in different ways including using them to make pies for DH who says blueberry pie is his fav.
The tomatoes have started ripening in bunches now. Look at what's on my window sill and there's a whole slew in the garden which are just this side of ripe. I will be looking for a good sauce recipe so I can start canning them. I for years just threw a sauce together, you know a little of this and a little of that but, have found with canning if you want to replicate something the next year.... you should record your recipe. Also depending on how I am canning it, I have to make sure the ratio of low acid veggies to high acid veggies are safe to can using a BWB (Boiling Water Bath) canner. If I choose to BWB can vs. PC (Pressure Can) I have to be right on the money. With PC it's not a problem as the water temperature is much higher and you are "pressure" canning. Damn canning is a science, don't ya know? I do now have a huge file of recipes for canning. But, not a dang one for tomato sauce.
With the extra maters will also be doing some of the salsa I did last year. I only have a single 4 oz. jar left of the over 18 I did last year. DH loves my salsa plus, I use a pint jar in my slow cooker vegetarian chili.
I did a count of what I have canned so far these past 2 months. I know compared to others it's not a whole lot but, to me and DH it represents quite a bit of our winter food. And, I am going to have to look into scoring some more free jars. Or, if not... go to the stores and find some cheap. The outlay in money isn't too bad when you figure you can in them forever but, 500 ml jars are going for ~ $8/12. I have way more than enough liter jars.... those will be for soups and what little meat we do eat. Oh yeah back to the count..... my count up to today is; 103 canned jars of food!!!!! Pretty awesome numbers to me.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Even today, lemon’s uses are numerous:
• Lemon juice cleans piano keys and copper pots, brightens porcelain, absorbs odors, and removes lipstick and wine stains.
• Half a lemon makes a fresh cleaning pad for sinks. Use it with a little salt as an abrasive.
• Undiluted fresh lemon juice cleans water spots and stains from your car's chrome.
- For a sore throat or bad breath, gargle with some lemon juice.
- Clean discolored utensils with a cloth dipped in lemon juice. Rinse with warm water.
- Toss used lemons into your garbage disposal to help keep it clean and smelling fresh.
- Use one part lemon juice and two parts salt to scour chinaware to its original luster.
- A few drops of lemon juice in outdoor house-paint will keep insects away while you are painting and until the paint dries.
- Remove scratches on furniture by mixing equal parts of lemon juice and salad oil and rubbing it on the scratches with a soft cloth.
- To make furniture polish, mix one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil.
- To clean the surface of white marble or ivory (such as piano keys), rub with a half a lemon, or make a lemon juice and salt paste. Wipe with a clean, wet cloth.
- To renew hardened paintbrushes, dip into boiling lemon juice. Lower the heat and leave the brush for 15 minutes, then wash it in soapy water.
- To remove dried paint from glass, apply hot lemon juice with a soft cloth. Leave until nearly dry, and then wipe off.
- Rub kitchen and bathroom faucets with lemon peel. Wash and dry with a soft cloth to shine and remove spots.
- Fresh lemon juice in rinse water removes soap film from interiors of ovens and refrigerators.
- Create your own air freshener: Slice some lemons, cover with water, and let simmer in a pot for about an hour. (This will also clean your aluminum pots!)
- Fish or onion odor on your hands can be removed by rubbing them with fresh lemons.
- To get odors out of wooden rolling pins, bowls, or cutting boards, rub with a piece of lemon. Don’t rinse: The wood will absorb the lemon juice.
- Save lemon and orange rinds to deter squirrels and cats from digging in the garden. Store rinds in the freezer during the winter, and then bury them just under the surface of the garden periodically throughout the spring and summer.
- After a shampoo, rinse your hair with lemon juice to make it shine. Mix the strained juice of a lemon in an eight-ounce glass of warm water.
- Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of salt to make a rust-removing scrub.
- Before you start to vacuum, put a few drops of lemon juice in the dust bag. It will make the house smell fresh.
- Get grimy white cotton socks white again by boiling them in water with a slice of lemon.
- Clean copper pots by cutting a lemon in half and rubbing the cut side with alt until the salt sticks. Rub the lemon onto the metal, rinse with hot water, and polish dry.
- Suck on a lemon to settle an upset stomach.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
The garden continues to produce and produce and produce. I have been canning my a_s off this week. And have hardly taken a break. It's been beets, beets and more beets. And, I have pink tinged clothes now. The kitchen was pink tinged too. Floor, cupboards, counter tops and whatever else got in the way.
The tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. Which is really nice. We had BLT sandwiches a couple of nights in a row. (They were easy to fix in the midst of the mess of canning!)
Oh and the corn. Can you spell d-e-l--i-c-i-o-u-s? It's been wonderful too. I don't think we'll be able to save enough this year to freeze from our garden. But, I could buy some local corn which has finally come down in price. It's now 6 ears/$1. Think I will freeze a couple of ears for the holiday dinners, ie Christmas, New Years, Easter when they will taste very good and seem like summer is back on our plates.
Hope everyone is enjoying the bounty of summer veggies! Tonight here it's eggplant Parmesan.
Of course the eggplant is from our garden. Going to have to find out how to save some of that for winter...... hmm. Anyone know?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I planned this year's garden to include sunflowers. I was pleasantly surprised when after planting my sunflowers to find numerous volunteer sunflowers popping up all over the yard. One of the good side effects to feeding the winged wild population. They carry the seeds every where in the yard and drop them.
You see.... I wanted to attract bees to the garden and also participate in the bee counting done by http://www.greatsunflower.org/. They are tracking the decrease in population of the bee colonies by getting people to plant sunflowers and then doing a count of the number (and types) of bees which visit the sunflowers in a set amount of time during the summer.
I can't say enough good things about them. It's a wonderful organization run by some really terrific people doing some really incredible work. You should really check it out. And, for those of you who have kids.... keep this in mind for next year. They even will send you the seeds for the sunflowers. (Did I say free seeds? Yup that's right, free!) This is my second year of contributing by counting. And, I will continue to do so for as long as I am able. We need our bees!
We finally got our much needed rain yesterday. Funny thing, it all fell within less than an 1/2 hour. The deluge with strong forceful winds and very loud thunder boomers filled our empty rain barrels in quick time. Wonderful! Then was followed by some very beautiful rainbows. Here are a couple of pictures taken by DH (who by the way is the son of a great photographer).
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Guess what? It's raining outside. It's been raining all night too. Finally! Not a day too soon either.
Only thing is we had planned and had roofers coming to redo the roof on our old garage or, what we call the out building. We just got off the phone with them as they are over 80 miles away. It was a bit hard to convince them we had had rain all night and it was continuing to come down. But, we didn't want to see any of the crew hurt by being up on a wet roof.
So I am off watering duty this morning. And, I think I will head back to bed. See you all tomorrow.
Monday, August 2, 2010
But, of course, I have been canning. The garden is coming in fast and furious. I start the day by double and triple checking the weather.... rain or, no rain. Which answers the question of whether we are going to be watering the garden or, not.
This past month of July... I think we watered 20+ days out of the month. We didn't get a lot of rain here. We had 16 days of rain per the Beckwith Township Weather Station. But wait...... only 7 days had more than 1.0 mms of rain. And, remember that 1 inch equals 25.4 mms so you can figure the 1.0 mms of rain on those 9 other days is just a teeny tiny bit. We had a total of 40 mms. of rain.... not even 2 inches for the whole month.
Then it's onto looking at the temperature of the day. Is it going to be stifling hot or, cool enough to can?
Then once I have decided it's cool enough to can.... then it's onto picking and harvesting whatever needs it the most. The garden has been very productive this year.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Lammas Day marks the beginning of the harvest. In old England, loaves of bread were baked from the first-ripened grain, consecrated in churches, and eaten.
From the Old English hlaf, “loaf,” and maesse, “mass” or “feast,” Lammas is very old indeed.
It derives from the ancient English festival called the Gule of August, which marked the beginning of the harvest, traditionally August 1. The early English church kept this pagan dedication of the first fruit but converted it to Christian usage.
After Lammas Day, corn ripens as much by night as by day. –proverb
Nothing tastes better than newly picked corn!
As earlier Suns are setting;
The corn has reached the tasseled age,
Its silken tresses netting.
–Stephen H. Thayer (1839–1919)
If corn blades twist up, it will rain. –proverb
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