Who was I kidding?

Yesterday, after 14 quarter pints of jams and jellies, I said there was nothing to do for today, then I went into the garden last evening before the rain began, to pick tomatoes and do a bit of weeding. Well, I came back in with this:

While weeding, I turned up two small potatoes, too. That was the half pound of tomatillos I needed to make another batch of green salsa/simmer sauce, and with the fully ripe tomatoes here plus the ones in the kitchen window, enough tomatoes to make a couple jars of salsa. After morning chores, picking a handful of jalapenos, I cored and scored the tomatoes and poured boiling water over them. Chopped the onion, peppers, garlic, located necessary citric acid and salt and made two pints of salsa to add to the shelf. Then the frozen and fresh tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, and spices were blended into a semi smooth sauce and cooked down to 3 half pints of the green salsa/simmer sauce. Instead of using crushed red pepper this time, I minced 3 Thai hot pepper to go with the 2 jalapenos. Bet this batch is spicy.

When cool, they will be labelled and added to the shelf. I have had to clear another shelf to accommodate the past two days. The tomatoes still in the window sill to finish ripening will become canned tomatoes that can be used in chili, soup, or seasoned to make more pasta sauce if needed later. A couple of the tomato plants are beginning to brown, I think we are reaching the end of the season for them. There are probably 200 Thai peppers on the two plants, as they ripen red they are brought in and put in a drying basket. I should start stringing them to dry before I have too many for a single layer in the basket.

It is that time of year when the coop and hen run look like the comic exploding chicken when you see feathers going everywhere. It is molt time, starting with the Oliver eggers, including the crazy broody one. The Welsummers are showing it on their heads, so they will be losing more feathers quickly, then the Reds. That means few eggs, soon, no eggs until they grow their new winter feathers. At least they aren’t waiting until is it frigid outdoors like they did last year.

I would like to start a new flock for next year, but with Covid, Son 1 can’t come to thin the flock, plus the freezer still has at least 4 or 5 from last time. No matter what I do with them, I can’t make them palatable. He does somehow, but he lacks a big freezer and I can’t get them to him. He joked about coming, staying in the basement, eating on the back porch and avoiding the main part of the house so he could pick up his canned and frozen goodies. I joked about driving the 3 hours to his house, leaving it on his porch, and driving back home. I WANT TO BE WITH MY KIDS!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!

Tools and Tasks

Late last summer, we purchased me a large stainless steel water bath canner with basket rack. The rack is supposed to hang on the rim of the pot to load and unload, but the handles are a joke, they take up jar space, don’t hold the rack steady to load without tipping, and won’t stay upright so you can grab them when the canning batch is done. I have considered just removing them. When we got it, I decided I didn’t need all of the other stock pots that vary in size enough to nest with the largest one large enough for canning quarter pints and half pints. It will do a few pints if I don’t use the steamer basket to hold them off the bottom of the pot. I need to find a 10 inch round cake cooking rack to put in the bottom of it. I listed a couple of the stock pots with the deep and shallow steamer baskets and lids and someone said they wanted to buy them, but then didn’t show up twice at our meeting place, so I gave up. Now I’m glad they didn’t sell. I use the largest and smallest stock pots frequently when canning. If I have a big stock pot of sauce to can or want to use quarts, the huge canner is used.

Last year when I was helping out at Son 1’s to help them move, I mentioned the difficulty of picking the apples and pears. They asked me if I had a picking basket and I had no idea what they meant. Later that trip, they showed up with an extension handle picking basket as a gift for me.

That basket and the canning tools are the tools of summer, used only then and stored away for another year.

I did pick the apples yesterday afternoon, using my picking basket, there weren’t many and they were a sorry looking lot, but I brought them in, washed, cut, cooked, and canned before preparing dinner.

They added 5 pints of thick unsweetened applesauce to the larder. There are two left from last year and an open jar was in the refrigerator that had an additional half cup or so added to it as it didn’t all fit in the pint jars. We finished the open jar with dinner last night.

This morning, when I got up, I pulled out a pound of the frozen tomatillos to begin to thaw, went out and picked the rest of the ripe grapes, and while it was still cool this morning, made two batches of jam and canned them using the quarter pint jars I bought for lids before my SIL so generously mailed me 4 dozen. First up was Tomatillo/Lime/Jalapeno jam. It is good on a Charcuterie tray, as a glaze on pork, meatloaf, or spread on a burger (meat or veggie). There are 7 quarter pints to add to the shelf. While it was canning, the grapes that were frozen were thawed and added to the fresh ones and cooked for juice to make Concord Grape Jelly. The Folly Mill that gets used only a couple of times a year, to remove the skins from the cooked apples for applesauce and the skins and seeds from the grapes was pulled off the drying rack and the grape juice extracted. The jars for canning it were put in the canner to sterilize and heat up and the sugar and pectin added to the juice to cook into jelly. That also ended up being 7 quarter pints.

Quarter pints of jams and jellies are a good size as we don’t use a lot, it is good gift giving size, and they get used up before I tire of the flavor and switch to another one from the supply.

Late yesterday, I emailed the reuseable jar lid company and asked when I could expect my order to ship. They originally said up to 2 weeks. I had received 3 identical emails telling me they had plenty and they would ship in approximately two weeks from order date. Yesterday was 2 1/2 weeks. I got an email back saying they would ship today and this morning, received an email that they have shipped. I still have 2 unopened boxes of lids from my SIL, one open one, plus a couple of boxes of wide mouth unopened. I should be in good shape to await the shipment. Right now, there is nothing awaiting canning. When another half pound of tomatillos ripen, I will make salsa. More tomatoes are turning pink then red and more tomatoes will be processed. Peppers are loving the cooler nights and the Thai peppers are beginning to turn red, the Jalapenos producing for brining, dicing and freezing, and when some ripen red with the Seranos that need to ripen red, Sriracha style sauce will be fermented. Tomorrow and Saturday will be cooler, so I will work at closing down parts of the garden, preparing a bed for garlic, while continuing to harvest what the garden will give.

A new month

September is usually winding down month on canning, but there are so many green tomatoes on the vines, that tomatoes will still be canned; the grapes are finally ripening, so grape jelly is still to be made; the ground cherries are just beginning to bloom so jam from them will be prepared; there are so many Tomatillos forming and blooms still developing that some will be made into green salsa, some frozen or canned in halves. Usually September is Asian Pear marmalade and applesauce time. I went out Sunday afternoon to check the ripeness of the Asian Pears, and they are gone, every last one of them from the top to the bottom. There are few apples, maybe one small batch of sauce. Because of a later frost, there weren’t a lot of pears or apples, but certainly enough to make a few batches. I don’t know what happened, I have gotten so many pears in the past that I have shared them, pressed them into cider, made the marmalade and pear sauce. Not this year. I will buy enough at the Farmer’s Market to make one batch of marmalade, that is my favorite jam, and enough apples to make a canner full of applesauce jars. This wasn’t a fruit year in our gardens.

It was fall like temperatures and very rainy yesterday. I had submitted orders to Eat’s Natural Foods and to Tractor supply for curbside pick up of some groceries for us and feed for all the critters. On Sunday, I sold the monster Stihl line trimmer on Craigslist after wearing myself out trying to start it and then daughter who brought her kiddos over for a masked socially distanced visit also tried. It started once and cut out. I was tired of fighting with the Herculean task of using the professional sized monster, so we had ordered a mid sized Stihl battery powered one and the larger battery, that was to be picked up too. When daughter and grands came over, granddaughter presented me with a pair of new socks that she insisted her Mom get for me because they were definitely ones that according to her “Mommom will love.” They are adorned with gourds and down the side is written, “Oh my gourd ness.” For you NP. As I dressed to go out in the cool rain, I donned my new socks.

Yesterday I posted my start photo for the Jenkins monthly spinning challenge, I had started knitting mittens with some of the yarn spun last month. I will be spinning the same fibers, to finish the Shetland/silk braid and work on through the blue Tunis.

About 3 inches into the mitten cuffs, I decided the yarn was just too fine for mitten weight fabric, so I “frogged” them and rewound the yarn, began again holding two strands together to get a better weight. That meant I was going to need at least that much more yarn to make them, so last night I challenged myself to spin heavier yarn on my heaviest spindle. It won’t be counted in the challenge, but will be knit into the mittens. I think it may be heavy enough, I hope.

I will finish this spindle full and another and ply them to see. I am not usually very successful with this spindle except to ply finer yarns as it is heavier than I prefer and my yarn singles tend to break if I get any yarn weight on it. So far I am doing okay with a heavier spin. Time will tell.

I made a difficult decision about Cabin Crafted Etsy Shop. I am paying personal property tax on equipment and stock and with no craft shows upcoming due to Covid, paying relisting fees on Etsy, as I have a fair size stock that is just sitting with no income. All yarn, knits, and weaves in my shop were drastically marked down to materials cost with no markup for labor. I need to move the stock I have made and then decide whether Cabin Crafted as a cottage business is going to continue on or close up and just knit and make soap for my family and me, or for friends that make specific requests. I enjoy the process and even setting up for events, but the times are tough right now.

Stay safe everyone. with the University in town opening two weeks ago, cases of Covid had soared, from 5 to nearly 200 cases just on campus in those two weeks. They are even on the rise in our very rural county as folks work and shop in the town. We are back in full isolation with only curbside pick up of necessary goods.