Posts tagged ‘canning’
What a summer it was. I’m not sure how I feel about it really; happy it’s over, but sad at the same time, and feeling a bit guilty because I really do love summer, but I’m happier it’s over more than sad. A lot has transpired in our home and our house. The house has undergone so much transformation that I can’t even begin to describe it. My yard has been an eyesore for too long now, but I’m certain it won’t take long to get back together and it has to be done before the snow flies. The piles of stuff have killed the grass on the sunny side of the house, which has now presented itself as an opportunity to create a large vegetable garden… or at least that is what we are thinking. I’m worried about too large a garden even though I dream of growing enough organic roma tomatoes to make a slew of pasta sauce because this summer I learned that I have a fracture on my spine that will be with me for the rest of my days. I’m working to strengthen my back so that I can continue to garden, but my back needs time to heal and grow stronger. I’ll probably put the garden in anyway and cut back on other things, but not the bees.
We are getting ready to harvest our second batch of honey and then we will be helping the hive prepare for winter. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they make it through the winter. Keeping bees has been a unique learning experience… our hive was healthy – too healthy, it swarmed, the remaining bees that were left behind created a brand new, healthy queen. Despite the swarm which meant a three week lull in honey production while the new queen hatched, mated and started laying brood (essentially starting over), we managed to extract about 40 pounds of honey so far. I suspect there is another 20 pounds still available for us… with enough left for the bees.
I planted a few more wild flowers in my flower beds this summer for the local bees (mine live too far away to forage at my house) and butterflies.
I made a giant batch of dill pickles with my mom and sister. We had quite the system going and were done in record time. Unfortunately, I we made the pickles at the peak of my back issues and was in agony for two days after, but I have a lot of pickles to show for it. Maybe this is something I can cut back on next year… but I still want to make sauce… dilemma.
We took a short trip to NYC. My husband had to go for work so we tagged along and I saw NCY through the eyes of a 4 year old. I highly recommend this.
We grew some veggies. We did some crafting. We started Jr. Kindergarten. We started university. We baked. We installed central air.
Now that summer is almost over, I’m happy autumn is almost here. I have a lot of fun projects and outings planned provided my back lets me. We may even finish the hallway…
De sauce was good. Very, very good. When my fussy 4 year old eats off her dad’s plate and finishes her own, I know de sauce was good. She even had thirds off my plate. I finally know what I do wrong. I cook my sauce too long; this makes it a bit bitter. I thought I was supposed to cook out the liquid, but look at all the liquid on the plate – it was sweet and light and fresh, and so very, very good. Sorry Mom, I didn’t save you any, but I’ll try to make some now that I think I know what I’m doing wrong.
A couple weeks ago… maybe three, a nice elderly fella stopped by and asked me about my giant hibiscus plant in my front garden. He wanted to know what it was called. This is a special hibiscus plant. My grandfather grew it from seed. He grew many of these plants and I was a very happy recipient of one about six years ago. I promptly planted my hibiscus in my front garden and it has done very well there. I wish I had a picture to show it to you in full bloom. It is such a show stopper that we’ve actually have a car accident in front of the house when it was in bloom. I heard the person who caused the accident say that they were looking at the plant. I promise to take a picture later this summer to show you the size of the flowers. Anyway, I told this kind gentleman of 83 to come back in a couple weeks and I would dig him up a piece. I finally saw him again today and I had a plant ready for him. He came back later to collect his plant, and he brought with him a jar of homemade pasta sauce. He said, in his thick Italian accent “I givea you de sauce. I give no one de sauce.” I think I may have acquired something good here and such a treat too. I was going to just give him some of my plant… I will let you know how de sauce tastes tomorrow, but it sure looks good… look at all that basil and garlic.
You’ll have to pardon the brief interruption from our century home restoration: its canning season.
I’ve been making and canning peach chutney for a few summers now, and I’ve made curried pickles before, as well as red pepper jelly and cranberry sauce, and now I can add tomatoes – a bushel of tomatoes. When I purchased my bushel of tomatoes a sweet elderly lady took one look and said to me: You have a lot of work to do. I nodded, smiled and said: I suppose I do. Little did she know that I recently splurged and bought myself a Vitamix. Big deal you say? Let me tell you, all I had to do was give my tomatoes a scrub, slice off the core, slice the tomatoes in two, fill up the Vitamix and process at five on the speed dial for five seconds. Total prep time for one bushel of tomatoes using the Vitamix was about 45 minutes. Yes, I kept the skins on, but the Vitamix processes them in such a way that you don’t even see them. I only processed them a bit so they were diced, but the skins magically disappeared. If you want to check out some fun times with tomatoes, check out Clay and Zach at the Bitten Word. These guys raw packed their tomatoes; I used the hot pack method.
I think I will pickle some beets next: the golden ones; they might be a bit easier on the stain factor… and then some bread and butter pickles because these don’t seem to last very long in our house and the pickles available to us in the grocery store come all the way from Indonesia. That just seems wrong… and if I can muster up the energy (and time) why not make some sauerkraut. I think the influences of living in an old house and longing for simpler (?) times is driving my motivation to can the summer harvest (the local farmer’s market harvest, not mine). That and it would appear we have a new/old ghost living with us again that seems to approve of my canning. Whoever this is has turned on the basement light on two occasions; I assume to lure me to the shelves of old mason jars stored down there.