Sunday, Sunday

Our television is in our loft which has three windows plus two double dormer windows across the vaulted ceiling over the living room, so the large open space can be very bright when the shades are up. As a result, the Roman shades on the loft windows stay closed. Yesterday was the first NFL games of the season and hubby had the TV on from 1 p.m. until long after I left for bed. I’m not much of a football fan, or television at all. I played in the garden for as long as the heat and humidity allowed, weeding and harvesting, bringing in a very full basket and an armload of produce and basil.

I sat at the dining room table and stripped the basil to dry in another basket, sorted out the beans from the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos. Then brined a quart of Jalapenos, strung the Thai peppers to dry.

Then filling my iced tea cup, I came up to spin or knit while football played on. I mentioned that the shades stay drawn so there is no glare on the TV which makes for poor lighting for knitting, but it was just basic ribbing on for the bottom of a grand daughter’s sweater. I alternated knitting a few rows, then spun some yardage on the spindles. The old wrist break and the arthritis it has caused, prevents me from knitting for very long any more. Spinning on the spindles doesn’t seem to bother it.

After the first game series ended, I went down to make hubby’s favorite meal, homemade enchiladas and tacos which involves frying tortillas into taco shape, shredding cheese, dicing onion, making the enchilada sauce, so a fairly intensive and time consuming meal, as the football games continued above.

After the meal was completed and cleaned up, left over beans, sauce, and taco meat packaged up for the freezer, I returned to the loft. Only I put on my headphones to block the games and continued with my crafts. As it got darker and more difficult to see what I was doing, I realized that three rows back, about half a round in, I made an error, knitting when I should have purled and thus the ribbing was messed up. Too tired to continue with it and not wanting to try to rip back three rows and picking up 134 stitches in the dark room, I tossed it in my basket, spun for a while longer and retired to bed with my book.

This morning in the brighter light, I surveyed the damage.

For some odd reason, it was half a round and only in the row down three rows, so this morning, I dropped each stitch back three rows one at a time and picked them back up correctly. It may have taken longer to do that than to just frog three rows and pick up the stitches, but the yarn is superwash, so slick, the knit not very tight and I didn’t want to risk having to frog all 2 1/2″ and starting over. At any rate, I can continue knitting the rib for another half inch then begin on the body of the sweater. This sweater has a pouch and hood like a hoodie sweatshirt, so the fiddly pouch will have to be picked up soon. I have knit this sweater at least a dozen times in various sizes for daughter and her kiddos, but that pouch always causes me pause, plus I need two needles the same size and only have 1 so I will borrow one from daughter, after all, the sweater is for her daughter.

The eggplant purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday was salted, wept, and brined to ferment on the counter for several days. I had fermented eggplant a few years ago at a fiber retreat, it was made by a friend and I hadn’t thought about it for a while until an online friend made some. Since eggplant is like a sponge and absorbs flavors, I used fresh basil, fresh oregano, minced Thai and serano peppers, and crushed garlic to flavor it. It should be delicious in a salad with Mediterranean food in a few days.

As things wind down

The posts including my obsession with canning will end and we will eat fresh until frost and then start digging in to the larder. The Natural Foods store did have pears, and Valencia oranges, so as soon as we got home from hubby’s appointment and the curbside pickup, I pared, cored, and sliced the pears; quartered, seeded, and sliced an orange and cooked the marmalade down to 5 half pints of my favorite jam. It may taste a bit different as these were firm Barletts, not the Asian Pears I usually use, but I will have some on the shelves for winter. As these won’t go anywhere (i.e. to Son 1 or daughter’s homes), I used the reuseable lids. One thing I don’t like about them is you don’t get the satisfying pop to know they are sealed. You have to wait for them to be totally cool, remove the band, and lift them by the lid to see if they successfully sealed. And you don’t want to use the permanent marker used on the metal ones to label the top of the jar. Instead, I will use small pieces of freezer tape to label them.

While we were in town for the appointment and curbside pickup, I was going to get a fermenting book from the library. They have been open inside for a month or 6 weeks with limited number of people at a time and safety precautions so I didn’t bother to check the website. There has been a significant spike in COVID cases on campus and town is in shutting down mode again. The library only has curbside pickup, but I hadn’t pre-arranged to get the book. Fast food restaurants with drive-through service have again closed their dining rooms with service only in the drive up window, which is all we use anyway. Another small business that has a sister business in town has closed and their stock moved to the sister business that is both ice cream shop and gift shop. I suspect we will see more of that and more food places close for good as it gets too cold to eat on their patios and sidewalk tables. The town had closed one street that has several restaurants flanking it and erected canopies with tables to accommodate them and they gave up 5 or 6 parking spaces in the alley near the Farmer’s Market for the same purpose. It will soon be too cold for people to sit out there to eat and the tables with umbrellas on College Ave will be taken in for winter. This is going to hurt these businesses again. The University is fighting to try and stay open until Thanksgiving to close and finish the semester virtually and online exams. Their plan was to reassess the situation if their quarantine room availability dropped below 50%. It is down to 31% and so they are moving students living on campus in one dorm to other dorms, giving them a housing rebate for having to move and freeing up 70 more rooms in an effort to stay open. The problem is the off campus students that go to classes on campus and return into the community and the limits COVID has caused to their dining facilities sending students to local restaurants and fast food locations to get food and the virus is spreading in the town and surrounding communities.

A long time ago, seems like a different lifetime, I worked with a very diverse group of folks, some of whom were excellent cooks, all older than me, many having already raised their families as we were just beginning. Recipes were often shared, even school staff cookbooks made. Several of the recipes became go to recipes for our growing family, a meatloaf recipe, pizza or calzone dough, and a faux lasagna. The meatloaf has evolved slightly, but is still used, now in small amounts or made into several and frozen except for the one cooked. The dough made about once a week. The faux lasagna went into the file after no cook lasagna noodles were introduced, but lasagna makes too much for just the two of us. One of the purchases I make from the Natural Foods store are really good egg noodles, the pasta from the faux lasagna. I had an 8 oz fresh mozzarella from the Farmer’s Market, bought a carton of cottage cheese from the village store, and made a quick pasta sauce from the tomatoes on the kitchen window sill, along with some of our garlic, onions, basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary and without having the recipe in my file anymore, it was recreated as well as I could from memory. I had Parmesan and there are still a few eggs from the molting hens. It doesn’t come off quite like lasagna, but it is rich, cheesy, with good sauce and an under an hour meatless meal. I quite enjoyed it, hubby ate it, but would have preferred real lasagna. He never complains, but I can tell when he thinks it is a repeatable meal. He has left over goulash and rice for lunch today and I have a serving of the casserole. We will both be happy.

As seniors we always get a flu shot, usually in mid to late October. We are wondering if we should get one now, but then worry that it won’t still be effective through the entire flu season. I guess a call to our primary care physician’s office is in order to get their opinion. We have no reason to go anywhere for the next few days until Farmer’s Market preorder pick up so we will hunker down safely here at home. The annual HVAC service is scheduled this afternoon. I am glad we have a walk out basement so the technician can enter and leave through that door and I can deal with the paperwork on the porch. We don’t want people coming into the house unnecessarily as the virus spreads through our rural community as well.

I am thinking and worrying a lot about my online friends and two young cousins on the west coast in the midst of the wildfires. One I know has had to evacuate and others are hoping they won’t, but dealing with thick smoke and ash. The cooler temperatures and predicted rainfall can’t come soon enough for them.

Stay safe everyone. I see more and more cartoons wishing 2020 adieu. It has not been a good year.

Arrrgh, mowing equipment

After I posted yesterday, I went down and put the new belt on the mower deck being very careful not to get it twisted and to follow the installation diagram. The engine started right up, I pulled out of the garage, engaged the mower, got about halfway around the front yard once and it ate the new belt. Something must be misaligned, a pulley, unlevel deck, something. So I pulled out the gas push mower to finish the front and mow a path to the chicken coop, yard hydrant, and garden. It hasn’t been started since April and it wouldn’t start. I thought I was going to dislocate my shoulder trying to get it running. Finally, I pulled the new line trimmer down, weed whacked the paths to the coop, hydrant, and garden and came in totally frustrated. A call to the local reliable repair shop to see if they worked on that brand of riding mower and they do, so the trailer was hooked up, the mower loaded and since we were headed there anyway, put the push mower on the trailer too and delivered them to be checked out, adjusted, and hopefully repaired without costing us a month’s retirement installment. Until they are returned, I will just keep paths whacked to the cars, the coop, and the garden.

We are due more rain today and tomorrow, but since the weather is cooling off, hopefully the grass won’t grow so much it can’t easily be mowed.

The reuseable lids arrived yesterday. I have placed an order at the Natural foods store and put pears on the list. If they have any, I will make my marmalade. If not, I will check the Farmer’s Market again on Saturday when I go to pick up my pre-ordered goods. I am still hopeful that since pears are a fall fruit that I will find some variety to use. I have moved some dry goods to old salsa jars and empty tins to free up a few more of the half pint size jars and with the ones still in the basement and a handful of quarter pint sized ones, I have enough for a couple batches of jam or marmalade, and enough pints for another batch of diced tomatoes or pasta sauce. I have combined some quarts of brined jalapenos to half gallons, so I can use quarts for tomatoes too. There are still a dozen wide mouth pints on the shelves as well, so there are enough jars and lids to finish the season’s canning. The beans from the other night added 3 more gallon bags loosely filled so they don’t become an unusable block of blanched beans in the freezer. I wish there was a more environmentally friendly way to store the frozen peas, beans, and corn. A sandwich size container is just about the right size for the two of us for a meal, maybe I should buy a stock of that size container that can be put in the dishwasher and reused year after year. I tried glass jars a couple of years ago, but you have to pack the beans or peas in water and risk jar breakage in the freezer.

Signs of summer fading away.

Wish we could share this out west.
Autumn Joy in bloom.
One Stella amidst the the faded Calendula which has generously self seeded there.
Enough Zinnias for a tiny bathroom vase.
Zinnias with ragged leaves and fading blossoms.

The garden is winding down, the flowers are fading, the leaves on the trees are dull and on our walk last night we could see the beginnings of color change and thistles blown.

Blown thistles and cockleburrs against the reflection on the pond.

Soon walks will require layers and starts before, not after dinner as the days shorten, the nights lengthen. And the seasons move on as we continue to distance from family and friends. Stay safe everyone.