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.

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.