Monday, September 29, 2014

The Changing Dynamic of Apple Picking

Every year since Sidney was born we have gone apple picking.  As the kids get older, the dynamic is beginning to change, ever so slightly.  This year they each brought a friend.  We go to an orchard that is beautifully kept, and allows you to climb the trees to pick apples.

The kids all climbed and picked for a few minutes, but then the girls either sat in the trees to chat or went off for a girls do.  The boys stuck with us, and ate their way across the orchard.  Before long, they all took off for the corn maize while we picked the apples, a bushel (about 40 pounds) worth.  The price was reasonable, or at least in line with what you would pay for local/regional apples at the grocery store, and we got a couple of great baskets to boot.  Always helpful with farm harvest.

In the afternoon while I ran Charles from soccer to boy scouts, B began working on the first batch of sauce and jelly.  The absolute best thing that we did this year?  We bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  This simple kitchen tool allowed us to process the first half bushel in record time!  As we ladled hot jelly and sauce into jars, we did something that we have never done before.....used every single mason jar in the house!  This year we have not only utilized every mason jar that we have collected over the last seven years, but had to purchase about three dozen additional ones.  That works out to be right at 175 jars of processed garden goodness!  We have one last round to go, but as I just said, it looks like I will be buying a few more jars to finish.

With the changing dynamic of the apple picking the kids may not have picked a lot of apples with us, but they will reap the benefits.....their lunches today consisted of peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, and apple, and an apple streusel cookie!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Red Sky & Silver Linings

Last night was a rather long and restless night. This morning, due to a meeting, I had to leave in the dark, but that had its rewards. I was able to watch the red fire light up the sky as I drove to work. Today a red sky in the morning did not pan out to be a warning.  

Now with the day coming to a close, another spectacle dancing above a corn field as I headed to pick up Sidney from practice.   I am now ready to hunker down with the family for the evening.  The silver lining; fall light never disappoints.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Signs of Early Fall

With the equinox in just a few days, the feeling of Fall is palpable.  Though today promises to be a warm one, the early morning crispness and rustling wind are beginning to dislodge the first early leaves from their branches.

As we clear and re-work the garden methodically bed by bed, B harvested over 100 lbs of potatoes yesterday.  The beans are drying and we have already harvested our first batch for shelling.

The squash are hardening off and turning the beautiful deep colors that butternut and spaghetti squash do.

Little fall rituals commence; the house is clean, smudged, and windows flung open.  Yet most endearing, two of our six young 23 week old hens have begun to lay their first eggs, and we have one who is laying green ones!  This is especially exciting because our only other green layer is getting up there in years and only laying periodically.  I am so looking forward to this, my favorite season as it continues to transform the world around us.  What early signs of Fall are you seeing?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#tbt Sibs

#tbt Sibs Amy & Billy circa somewhere around 1979.  It's been a VERY long week, and this made me smile!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Those Days

One of those days.  When schedules seem far too busy, work things do not go so well, and frustrations cloud your mood.  Those days, when the running seems just too much.  Those days, when you want to cut corners on dinner, but ultimately do not.  Then while on the road your breath catches and you are so glad that you have your camera close at hand.  Funny, how it is on one of those days that a moment touches you, diffuses you and allows you to exhale.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

One Last Round

As I sit here listening to one of the roosters crow....yes when you get a straight run of broilers, you get multiple roosters, I am wrapped in a blanket.  Overnight it seems we have transitioned from late August to October.  Though fall is my absolute favorite season, I cannot bring myself to turn on the heat before mid-September!  Hints of winter predictions to come?  Possibly.  It does, less than subtly, announce the gardens end.  It has produced well for us and now that the plants are all dying back, there is a certain catharsis in final harvests, clearing out, and putting the beds each down for a long, well earned, nap.  One last round of salsa and a final go at sweet corn will only leave applesauce for later this month, so two of the three canners that have cluttered the kitchen will also be tucked away.  I may not quite be ready for the dramatic cool, but it does feel good to wrap up in a flannel shirt, step outside, and fill my lungs with crisp air.  Here is to a VERY long Fall!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

#tbt 9/11/2001

#tbt 9/11/2001

This photo was taken on 9/10/2001, perhaps a day when the world was slightly more innocent.  My first trip home, traveling alone, with baby Sidney after moving to Wisconsin.  Little did I know at this moment that my daughter would be the first generation where the term 9/11 was an adjective that she was familiar with as a first grader.  We were on one of the first flights out of Los Angeles after the airport re-opened and resumed the new normal of air travel.  I am thankful to those kind individuals who helped me off of the bus.  No one would touch another persons luggage, stroller or baby seat, but they would hold a 5 month old baby so a young mother could scramble off the remote parking bus, as at that time, there were no curb drop offs allowed.  Sidney, now 13 and Great-Grandpa,now 94, who still enjoys and icy cold one, happy in a beautiful moment of innocence.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Special Touches

This week our community has seen a lot of tragic loss.  It serves as a reminder to seize the day, not get caught up in the drudgery or petty dramas in life, and do what is important.  Whether it be instilling the values of breaking bread with the dearest of friends, family really, at a young age.

Or, simply going the extra mile.   Add those little special touches like frying up some beautiful fresh basil as a garnish, or opening that bottle of wine that you have been saving.  Toast to life, toast to family and friendship,  seize every precious moment.  Just that little bit extra not only brings tremendous personal fulfillment, but joy to all those that you touch.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Friday Faves

Maybe it is just the coming fall thing, but I have been all over trying some new things to freshen, update, and invigorate.  This week has been no exception.  AND, yes I know it is Saturday, my intention was to post this yesterday, and then, well the day got in the way!

Toting pixels:  I have been trying to be better about bringing my camera with me everywhere.  For the last couple of years I have coveted a Kelly More bag that the Pioneer Woman has posted about.  I gotta say, I love my purses, but I also have a hard time choking up the cash for what I really want.  I also found this one on her site, it is half the weight, almost half the price, and perfect!  Win, win!

In the Kitchen:  I have followed Jessica's blog for quite a while and I like its fun light style, and all of the recipes that I have tried have been great.  So I loaded Seriously Delish, to my kindle this week when it came out. I am loving it and feel newly inspired with some fresh, easy ideas that I think will be perfect for keeping the kids engaged in good snacks and healthy meals now that the fall schedule is in full force.

Webby:  You know fall is here when you start seeing the webs covered in dew every morning.  Oh my the spiders have been busy this week. I almost do not mind getting tangled in them when I am trying to harvest in the garden!

Murakami:  I started and am already half way through 1Q84.  Completely. Engrossed.

A full week before this article Sidney was telling me that her sleep habits were all about her growing.  She had done some research and informed me of dopamine levels in teenagers as well as circadian rhythms, and the differences between teenagers and adults.  Good timing and a smart kid!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#tbt What Decade

When I was in 9th grade, my parents remodeled their kitchen.  This was taken just before the demolition.  Can you guess what decade I grew up in? :D

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bringing Our Farm to the Table

Our long weekend was equal parts farm work, research and relaxation.  We are hit with the bulk of our harvest and trying to find innovative ways to preserve it.  The nice thing about canning, is that after the upfront work, the canning process takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 90 or more minutes.  That leaves a little bit of down time to take a breath, read a book, cultivate new ideas and implement wild my sudden desire to re-arrange the family room!

We have been fortunate in our tomato harvest this year and so far harvested 80 lbs of tomatoes which have been eaten fresh and put in farm bags, but mostly gone into 17 quarts of roasted tomatoes in our pantry.  I think that we will have one more round of paste tomatoes to can, and then onto making green tomato relish!  This is a favorite of ours and this year we are going to crock ferment it!  Excitingly enough B and I will be speaking about crock fermenting at an event on September 12th, so this crock may just find its way into our demonstration.

We have tried to grow leeks a few times over the years, with varying success.  This year was a bumper year for them.  So in our search for ways to preserve them B pulled out Julia's Vichyssoise recipe and we found it a perfect match for pressure canning.  We pulled a few potatoes out, a very small portion of another crop doing very well, and put up 7 quarts of lovely soup.   In addition to what we canned, we had a large pot left over ready for an alfresco supper last night.

We also got our seventh farm bag of the season out yesterday!  As each year goes by we get a little bit better at planning and implementing our farm bags.  We have averaged five a season up until this year.  We may get one final bag out, but the plants are all slowing down and showing signs of finishing.  This weeks bags included Kale, Potatoes, Garlic, Cherry Tomatoes, Green Beans, a Bell Pepper, Eggplant, and leeks.

Even with warm days still hanging on, we are winding toward fall.  I love this season, it is comprised of lots of enjoying the outside time to its fullest, as well as an inner pulling toward preparing the nest.

Remember when I mentioned that we had a blogger for the Boston Store at our Chili Cook-off?  Well, we are almost famous in this little write up!


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