Monday, September 28, 2015
Last night's super moon lunar eclipse did not disappoint. We walked out to the road several times during the first hour as the moon did not rise above our tree line until about nine.
Then we watched from different places in the yard. B brought out his spotting scope and set it up so that we could get a really close up view, and we all took turns watching it that way too.
As the scope needed to be readjusted periodically at it's moving target, the kids also took some time for star gazing.
Possibly the best shot of the night was taken with an iPhone, carefully lined up with he spotting scope to capture some of the red of the blood moon.
Even this morning, I was struck by the full setting moon. Thankfully the clouds held off during the eclipse, and now they shroud the moon making it look almost spooky as we head into October.
Monday, September 21, 2015
This time of year makes me want to nest. All of the time spent harvesting and preserving food gives me a sense of urgency to not only get outdoor tasks done but also to get the inside prepared to be our comfort in the colder months ahead while still enjoying my favorite season. Part of this nesting is also reflected in a return to creativity. Sid asked that I knit her a beanie. Hmmmm, I have knit quite a bit in the past, but only blankets and scarves, things that could be knit in a straight line with no particular shape.
I found what looked to be a reasonably easy pattern, used supplies that I already had in the house, and knit two hats (one wearable) this week. It was a great learning experience, and really not that difficult. The first hat was plagued with problems. I had to scrap it more than half way through when I realized that I had knitted a twist. Lesson one was learning how to avoid a twist and as I began that hat again and then the second one, I paid close attention to avoid that! The second lesson was in the weight of the yarn. Though the pattern called for a medium worsted yarn, it really needed something heavy and the wool blend that I chose for round two was perfect. The third lesson was when knitting in a round the length of the circle is very important. Even if you cast on a certain number of stitches if you stretch them too far on say a 24" round vs. a 16" round it simply will be too large.
What I am left with is a happy daughter, more confidence and two hats, one that I think will fit perfectly on a scarecrow this fall!
Sunday, September 13, 2015
We could hardly help but have this phrase reverberating through our heads yesterday as we stripped and removed pepper plants. We harvested about 30 red peppers from 5 plants, and once removed still have three plants that remain with a few peppers starting that will provide some fresh for us through the fall. We then picked a full half bushel of jalapeños! What to do with all of these peppers??
This year we decided to try canning them so we began with charring the red peppers and a portion of the jalapeños on the grill. Once charred we gently peeled the skins but not too carefully leaving some of the beautiful char flavor for the can. Then B read that when canning peppers it was best to use their natural juices so we were also careful when we peeled them to keep them over the bowl that we had them in to collect any drippings. We then dredged them in vinegar and put the portions into jars that we then topped with the natural juices and pressure canned at ten pounds for sixty minutes. The jalapeños that we roasted were also dredged and went whole into cans to be used later, once the tomatoes finish, in salsa.
Then we took the remaining jalapeños, sliced them jarred them and topped them with boiling pickling liquid. The proportions for the liquid are consistent measures. 2 1/2 C vinegar, 2 1/2 C water, & 2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar. Then the quarts were water bath canned for 20 minutes. As the capsaicin from the peppers getting air born in our kitchen can lead to hours or days of coughing in our household, we decided to do all of the prep work for the jalapeños outside on the porch. This was a great decision and something that I highly recommend!
This left us with 3 1/2 quarts of roasted red peppers, 7 quarts of pickled jalapeños, and 1 quart of roasted whole jalapeños. Yesterday Peter Piper Picked & Prepped Peppers three ways!
Friday, September 11, 2015
It never fails that when we return from vacation at the end of August, we begin to focus on getting the kids ready for school and preserving food inside. As a result, the garden proper is all but forgotten. It is running on auto-pilot and we take that for granted until...well about mid-September. Once we had eaten, preserved and given away volumes of squash, we just let plants idle instead of pulling them. When removing the vines today we did find zucchini the size of watermelons! They will not go to waste as the chickens and pigs will have them as an added treat this weekend.
Don't get me wrong, we are still harvesting regularly, but we are also running out of steam; finding the larder fairly full, and beginning to contemplate taking the whole thing down. Today, on our first truly fall like day with a gentle wind and crisp temperatures we began to take stock. We weeded those beds that surround cooler weather crops that we will continue to harvest through the fall. As a result we can now better see the sheer volume of red peppers and jalapeños that we have ready to harvest. This weekend will include roasting and packing red peppers in olive oil, and pickling roasted jalapeño slices.
As the tomatoes have been pretty sporadic in ripening, we have popped many of the tomatoes in the freezer as they ripen. Once we have the bulk that we want for canning, we will simply defrost, skin and can them. There are a number of determinate tomatoes on the vine that should be ready for roasting, making into salsa and canning within the next week or so too.
We will also be digging potato and pulling leeks for another round of vichyssoise. Those cans were the biggest surprise last season, as they were the perfect base for many different soups and stews. As the plants die back we can begin to really appreciate the volume of butternut squash that is appearing this season. Since they are now hardening off, they are not a priority for picking but we will get them inside in the next few weeks. How is your garden progressing? Are you enjoying those final lingering harvests before putting it to bed too?
Sunday, September 6, 2015
It is also a time of reminiscences, as we think back on our tastebuds. The only thing missing is that we aren't all together, though I suspect before too long we will and oh what a party that will be!
*group photo shot by Images by Camela