Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jamie says

Mullets are hip again, right?
  • "Bop!" = Stop!
  • "Maynoes" = Tomatoes
  • "Sooz" = Shoes
  • "Papo" = Pacifier (mutant offspring of Diego's baby-word "paso")
  • "Blankuk" = Blanket
  • "Meeoh-Meeoh" = Oatmeal
  • "Gampa" = Grandpa
  • "Bel-bo" = Belly-button
  • "Moom" = Moon
  • "Day-go" = Diego
  • "Soo-in" = Truen

Monday, September 24, 2012

More results from another three-day weekend

  • 10 lbs dried green beans (now fits in 1 quart jar)
  • 11 pints pickled sweet peppers
  • 10-ish lbs dried green peppers (both pepper jobs were a major time-suck with all the chopping and seed removal)
  • 4 jelly jars / 1 pint vanilla-melon jam
  • 6 quarts tomato puree
  • 5 pints charred chili BBQ sauce
  • 8 pints pickled green tomatoes
What I didn't get done . . .
  • Another batch of vanilla-melon jam
  • Decant/refill fermenting vessels w/ cabbage for sauerkraut
  • Apples up the wazoo
  • Tomatillos (a huge box filled to the top)
  • Green tomatoes
We talked about it this weekend and it is really feels like there is no end in sight.  Honestly, this could go on for another month (especially with all the work left to the weekends).  There are boxes and boxes full of produce waiting for me.  Seriously. 

I would like to try it during the week, but it is prit'near impossible with all the demands of the three little monkeys underfoot.  I just don't know how I would do it.  Things are different this year w/ the combination of age levels and temperaments.  It seems like I am always in the process of negotiating peace, breaking up fights, or comforting one screaming child or another.  (Not to mention feeding, bathing, directing, diapers, clean-up, etc.)

Nevertheless, I shall persevere.  I still feel strong, though my enthusiasm is starting to falter a bit.  And (heh) . . . we're supposed to start our little home school next week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The fellas right after apple-picking

Diego - 7 years old
Truen - 4 (5 next month)
Jamie - 20 months

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend recap

Romanced by tomatoes

Squeeze took Friday off, so I had a full three days to focus on food preservation.

This list blows my mind:
  • 7 quarts applesauce
  • 1 apple leather
  • 4 pints, 8 jelly jars melon preserves
  • 2 tomato paste leathers
  • 6.5 pints BBQ sauce
  • 1.5 jelly jars crab apple jelly
  • 8 quarts tomato puree
  • 8 quarts sauerkraut

But I did do it, all of it.  The apple leather came from a quart of applesauce that didn't seal.  The one-point-five jelly jars of crab apple jelly is just outrageous; the amount of work that went into those tiny little jars is off the charts.  But goodness . . . is it beautiful (and delicious).  The tomato puree turned out to be a lovely orange from the combination of yellow and red-pink tomatoes.

Diego is obsessed with "chesst" again, so Squeeze spent much of his weekend playing one game of chess after another.  He was also able to get various tasks around the house done and took 95% of the responsibility for the little guys.  Aside from breakfast each day, he made the food, wiped the butts, changed the diapers, broke up the fights, wiped the hands, etc.  They went on a melon hunt Sunday and made an excursion to the rock pile that left the place so quiet I wondered if they had been abducted by aliens.

All this allowed me time to focus on the strategy of what needed tending first and the resulting sequence of events.  Honestly, I am in such a groove this season that it wasn't a taxing experience at all.  I had on my "game face" and was still going strong at 10:00 PM on Sunday night (though I was definitely tired this morning).  Jamie had a tummy ache and needed me particularly on Friday and Saturday, so I did take a number of deep-nuzzle snuggle breaks to refill his tank (which I loved).

Up next weekend: tomatillo salsa and apple products galore.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 Garden Tour

East Garden: Early June
The straw is laid down and all supports are in.
Onions are growing in the foreground.
Lettuce is the bright, bushy stuff on the left;
Peas are the tall plants in the background.

East Garden: Mid-June
A couple of weeks later and things are really growing.
I took this picture while a storm was moving in --
thus the pink lighting.

East Garden: Mid-July
Things are way, way up.
Onions will be harvested in a couple of weeks, corn is coming,
and the cabbages are starting to curl inward.

 To think . . .
this delicate little darling becomes
an enormous squash.

 West Garden: Mid-July
The vining plants grow here:
Melons, winter squash, summer squash, pumpkins.
Squeeze gives Truen credit for the idea for this walkway.
Truby was so excited about his "bridge" --
he drew a model of what he wanted, helped Squeeze pick out the planks,
and acted as construction assistant.
All the three of the boys loooooove walking on it.

Our very own grapes --
The birds got the majority of these little beauties.
Better luck next year...?

Mid-July harvesting:
Zucchini, beets, scalloped summer squash, cucumbers

Truen set this up while I was making lunch one afternoon.
Isn't it just darling?
We spent a couple of days protecting it from Jamie and
admiring the color and size differences, until the novelty wore off
and I disassembled it to make room on the table.

It has been flooding tomatoes for the past three weeks --
German Pink, Manyel, Cherokee Purple, Black Plum
(there's a bit of scarlett okra in there as well).
See our beautiful back "steps"?  And that lovely bottom-landing carpet?
Squeeze's dad will be building REAL steps this fall (can't wait).

 Melons, zucchini, & Cinderella pumpkins
from the West Garden --
the boys love the treasure-hunt of picking melons,
Not to mention the succulent, sweet reward.

Diego's vegetable stand --
This is his second year of selling vegetables.
His stand is in the kitchen; doesn't he set it up so beautifully?
While he sells to anyone who visits the house (thanks Mimi!),
his most loyal customers are his Grandmas.
The price?  One "hawk coin" . . . twenty-five cents.

East Garden: September
It looks a bit weedy and upkept by this point.

Cucumbers, corn, onions, and garlic are all done.  Some things are going to seed.  Second seedings of lettuce, radishes, cilantro are looking good, as are the second plantings of green beans and broccoli. 

The first planting of broccoli is putting out, big-time (though the florets are now about the size of your thumb).  Cooking greens are going full bore.  Tomatoes eggplant, okra, and peppers need to be picked every-other-day.

Our little franken-toddler has to be closely monitored these days.  He likes to stomp up to big green tomatoes or little peppers with uber enthusiasm, saying, "Rwwwwiiiiiiiipe!" and then lop them off their vines.  'Tis the season of life and garden.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The weekend tally

  • 2 pints watermelon-rind pickles
  • 7.5 pints charred chili BBQ sauce
  • 9.5 quarts tomato sauce
  • 1-2 pints tomato paste drying in the dehydrator (it started out as somewhere around 10 lbs of plum tomatoes . . . wow)
  • 8 quarts sauerkraut decanted, fermenting vessels refilled with same amount of fresh cabbage, salt, and caraway seeds
  • Went apple-picking and picked . . . uhhhhhh . . . 60 lbs?, 75 lbs? . . . 4 boxes full
  • Picked a sack filled with black walnuts to dry (experimenting)

How am I doing this...?  Very simple.  Squeeze keeps the boys under wraps for the weekend (they play alongside him wherever he is working, or "help" him work) while I spend two days from noon to bed-time in the kitchen. 

I am a preserving machine this season, a force to be reckoned with.  I surveyed our jar storage this evening and realized that we might run out of jars (and/or be forced to use the pints when I'd rather use the quarts).  The tomatillo glut hasn't even started yet and I have big plans for mondo amounts of salsa verde.  !!!

This is amazing for two reasons.  First off, I've been semi-embarrassed in the past, wondering why I have been hoarding such massive quantities of canning jars.  It always seemed so excessive.  But this year?  Whoa baby, I'm on fire. 

And that brings me to my second point, which is . . . I am totally Wonder Woman this year.  It is amazing.  I can't believe the amount of food I am preserving!  I assume it is a combination of fabulous output from our garden and the accumulation of skills and experience.  I am so impressed every time I go down in the root cellar.  It already looks amazing.

And last but not least, Squeeze built a sandbox.  (Sorry about that terribly back-lit picture, it was the best I could do at the time.)  We've been talking about it for the past 3-4 years and finally got our act together and decided this was it!  The biggest hurdle has been deciding where it would go.  Squeeze used wood from our huge pile of reclaimed lumber, harnessing the charm of the "rustic" look.  He did a great job.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Last weekend's stats

  • 2 pints watermelon-rind pickles
  • 4 pints cantaloupe preserves
  • 2 quarts dried plum tomatoes
  • 11 quarts tomato sauce
  • Still in the hopper (i.e. should have been decanted on Sunday): 6 quarts sauerkraut