Market Day and Repairs

Another week has drifted by in isolation with a few woods, pond, and rail cut walks. Another gray and drizzly market day. It was raining lightly when we left the house, but it hadn’t reached town when we got there. There was still some sunshine and a few broken clouds, but it was raining lightly by the time the market pick up was done and breakfast in the car eaten. There were more vendors at the market today and more people that were just browsing, too many people not respecting social distancing. Social distancing is difficult when you stand back 6 feet, then have someone “cut” in line in front of you because they don’t realize there is a line as happened to me today. I allowed it to happen instead of saying something to the two young women who shouldn’t have been there when I was as they hadn’t pre ordered, nor were they 55+ years old. Then a young man, also not meeting the prerequisites to shop that hour stepped right up next to my shoulder, again, no respect for distance. Everyone is masked and I know the young volunteers at the information table don’t want to challenge everyone with a question about whether they had pre orders or were old enough. Today made me somewhat uncomfortable in the crowd. I guess I need to go back to the beginning of the first hour and take my chances that everyone is set up. But this below is why I like our Farmer’s Market.

This is a sampling of the goodness that was brought home today, thanks to Riverstone Farm and Greenstar Farm for the veggies, Whitegate Farm for the butter and sausage, and Williamson Farm for a pound of grass finished ground beef. No bread this week since I baked during the week. As we were heading off to get breakfast, I was discussing with hubby how some of the issues could be handled, not that anyone asked me. There are three rows of vendors in an L shape. One row is under the shelter below, facing the green.

The second row backs up to them and the third row is across the lot from them, no cars are permitting on Saturday mornings except for the vendors to unload in the morning and reload in the afternoon. About where the roof changes heights, there is a two way opening to try to direct traffic that causes congestion and has people coming and going between the rows. My idea is to close in the first row with vendors filling that opening and the corner opening and making traffic one way. You enter at the first vendor in that row anyway. If they did that and shifted the last vendor in that row a couple of feet to open a path to the rear rows as the exit is currently in line with the entrance behind the first row. One way traffic would help alleviate some of the congestion.

Once the goodies were home, a basket to hold the potatoes on top of the refrigerator was sought from my supply. It needs to be away from the sunny window where the wire hanging tiered basket is that holds onions and garlic that isn’t in a braid. The one I was going to use was one of my earliest ones made and stained with Walnut stain. I used to be very good about hosing my baskets off about once a year to remove dust and dampen the reed to keep it from getting brittle, but I don’t think that most of my handmade baskets have been given that treatment since moving in to this house 15 years ago. I had noticed some broken reeds in the weave of several of the baskets, but that one was the worst. When in the basement to pull out ceramic pumpkins and the ghost to decorate with a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a plastic bin with a partially made basket and reed in it. That unfinished basket must be 18 to 20 years old. I remember the day I was teaching Son 1 and friends how to make baskets, in the back yard of the house we sold in Virginia Beach prior to building the house here. We spent a couple of years renting while plans were made, house was started, and finally completed.

The reed was checked for soundness and size. I needed narrower reed than what was there, so after soaking it and the most damaged basket, it was cut to width and the basket was repaired. That inspired me to inspect the other baskets and do more repair. There was some narrow chair caning reed that worked perfectly on the blue and natural apple basket that was made by my friend that took the class with me. The wider reed was right to repair the largest basket. The odd shaped unfinished basket was made into a very crude, misshapen basket that went on the top of the refrigerator for the potatoes and covered with a small tea towel.

Two baskets still need a rinse, but they are too large for the sink, so they will go out to the yard and get a quick hosing down. It would have bothered me when I started making baskets to not make the one on the right perfectly shaped and properly edged and the unstained reed on the stained basket would have stressed me, but it shows that repair and keep using is more important than perfection and I kind of like it.

The two winter squash with the last pumpkin from last year’s harvest were put in a wooden trencher that hubby gave me years ago from a craftsman at a fair. They will be used for meals in the next week or two and the pumpkin will make pies for our isolation holiday meals as we can’t have our kids here and since the garden did not produce pumpkins this year. The local pumpkin patches are open but they aren’t any fun without grandkids along.

Waste Not, Want Not

Last evening before it got dark, I ventured into the garden with a single basket. It proved to be too small. There were a few red tomatoes, a few turning red, and 7 pounds of green tomatoes on dead vines. There are still two determinate type slicers growing with a few fruits on them. The Thai and Serano peppers had a couple hands full of red ripe peppers and the Jalapenos had a hand full of pickling size, and fortunately I had on a jacket with big pockets to hold them. The basil got cut again, maybe for the last time. And about a dozen Tomatillos ready to harvest.

The basil was stripped to dry but the rest was just left on the table until this morning while I tried to figure out what to do with 7 pounds of green tomatoes. All of the recipes I saw online were for salsa you broiled the tomatoes, onions, and garlic then food process mixed them for a refrigerator salsa. There were too many tomatoes for that. One of my favorite canning cookbooks to the rescue.

First, I pickled the jalapenos, blanched and froze the Tomatillos and ripe tomatoes. Put the ripening ones in the window to finish ripening. Strung the red Thai peppers to start the third string of them drying.

Though her recipes are generally for a few half pints, I have successfully doubled or tripled them for pints. The recipe for a canned Green Tomato Salsa called for 2 pounds to make 3 half pint jars, I tripled it and realized very quickly that it was going to make way more than 4+ pints, so 6 pint jars went into the canner to heat up and as I was filling them with a very thick and chunky salsa, added a 7th. The recipe called for a half poblano pepper. I don’t grow them, they don’t have any “kick.” I had harvested Serano and Thai peppers that had no immediate use, there weren’t enough Seranos and no red Jalapenos to make Sriracha style fermented sauce, so I just chopped them up with the Thai’s and added them to the 6 pounds of chopped green tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spices. The suggestion was to remove it from the heat when it was thick enough and taste it to adjust the salt and hot peppers if needed. Well, I think I will name it “It might make you cry” Salsa, it made me cry. Son 1 likes it hot, hubby likes it hot. Between them, I’m sure all 7 pints will disappear in short order, but I won’t be eating any of it.

The last pound of green tomatoes were layered in a box with a ripe apple in hopes that they will ripen and can be added to the bag in the freezer to use later in the winter and a recipe calls for whole or diced tomatoes.

For years, we have had an indoor/outdoor thermometer system. They last 4 or 5 years before they give out and quit working. Our last one quit about two weeks ago. It is funny how you learn to rely on something. I can check the weather forecast, but the station that reports for us in located somewhere in the county in an area that seems to be more extreme temperature changes than we have. I have checked to see that it was reporting as much as 10 degrees colder than our unit said when it worked. The outdoor part of ours in on the inside of a post of our north facing covered front porch. Tractor Supply carries a variety of thermometers from ones you hang on the porch and either try to read through the window or brave the elements to go out and look at it, to the indoor/outdoor ones with all sorts of reporting. I got us a medium range one that shows temperature, time, indoor temperature and humidity, barometric pressure, high/low temperature history, and supposedly, a prediction (we will see on that feature).

It is hanging near the front door, so we can see how many layers we need to put on before going out. The high/low feature won’t kick in accurately until it has been up 24 hours. It is a pleasant 72 today, the high for the week. We had a quick rain shower but have a couple days of soaking rain due tomorrow and Wednesday. While picking up the thermometer, we also picked up a roll of heavy mil plastic sheeting that will cover the fig and if necessary some garden plants if a frost is predicted this week.

I need to go find space on the pantry shelves for the salsa.

Stay safe all.

Another Glorious Day

It is clear and crisp, cool enough for a light wool in the mornings and evenings, and a light long sleeved shirt when working outdoors during the day. This is my favorite time of the year, after it cools off, but before it gets cold.

The Asian Pear Marmalade was made yesterday afternoon. It took forever to cook to jam consistency, but it is thick and a beautiful golden color. The 3 pounds of pears and an orange, filled 4 half pints plus a quarter pint jar with just enough left over to enjoy warm on a biscuit remaining from Friday night’s dinner.

Last week, I began a ferment of some of the small Eggplants that I had gotten at the Farmer’s Market. It has been sitting on the back of the counter all week with the ferment weight and ferment lid, all covered with a small towel. I hadn’t even peeked at it all week and decided to check it this morning. What a gorgeous color it turned and the ferment is so good. I have to thank a local friend for introducing me to fermented eggplant many years ago, and a distant online friend for reminding me of it now that I ferment so many good foods. I bought zesty salad mix and radishes at the Farmer’s market yesterday and a block of goat milk Feta cheese last week. I think a salad with those items and some of the eggplant and a tomato if I can find a ripe one will be a nice addition to dinner tonight.

As soon as the morning sun and wind dry the garden leaves, I will pick beans and any other produce ready to come in for the freezer. Soon, the remaining beans will be left to mature and dry to save for planting next year. I have planted this variety for a couple of years and they perform very well here. Last year I didn’t save the seed and had to purchase seed, but bean seed is so easy to save. When the peas start producing, I will harvest to enjoy and also let them mature and dry for saving. Some packages of seed I use have so many seed in them that the package will last two or three years, and some seed is so tiny and difficult to save, I just purchase when I need more. I suspect I will have volunteer tomatillo all over the place next year and have in the past, dug them and relocated them where I wanted them to grow.

Since my newest spindle arrived during the week, I have been spinning mostly on it to get used to it’s size and weight and because when it spins, the wood grain of the figured Bigleaf Maple makes the most interesting concentric circles, very mesmerizing. This is the second turtle of fiber on it. It would hold a lot, but I am trying to keep the colors of the braid consistent enough that the plied yarn will be similar to the first half of the braid that I finished last month.