Sometimes two brains…

are better than one, sometimes one is enough. Hubby and I have a standing joke as senior moments set in and between us we remember a word, event, or help with a thought lost in the telling. When we were newly in our relationship, he claimed I had no sense of humor as I would just roll my eyes at his jokes. I couldn’t then and still can’t remember punch lines of jokes to retell them. Over the years, I have gotten better at infusing an occasional one liner into a conversation. He is the intellect, I am the practical sense one.

As I have been processing tomatoes into various sauces, if there aren’t enough at one time, they often are frozen. When taken out of the freezer and plopped into a sink of water, the skins come right off and they can be chopped on a block and dumped into the pot. If they are fresh off the vine or the window sill, they are cored, scored with an X on the blossom end and boiling water is poured over them. When they are cool enough to handle, the skins come right off, but to chop them loses a lot of juice that I don’t want to lose. I have tried dicing them in the palm of my hand over the pot, but that isn’t ideal either. This morning, I had an Ah-Ha moment. I poured the water off the pot of tomatoes and as I peeled them, I dropped them back in the pot whole or in half if they were large. Tucked between the stove and the countertop is a metal bench scraper I use to scoop diced veggies into a pan, scrap dough that sticks to the board, even cut blocks of cheese. It is a versatile, regularly used tool. Since the stock pot is flat on the bottom as they have to be for my smooth top stove, the bench scraper made a perfect in the pot tomato dicer.

Diced as fine as I want, no juice lost, perfect solution. I wonder why I didn’t think of it sooner.

The tomatoes from the window sill and the ones harvested this morning put 5 more pints of pasta sauce on the pantry shelf. The jalapenos picked this morning were diced and frozen in a silicone bag for chili and casseroles, the last of the cucumbers are fermenting, and enough green beans from planting number two which is reaching it’s end to serve with dinner tonight. Planting 3 is full of blooms, so beans will continue for a few more weeks.

Not as much on the shelves as last year, but more to can and they are beginning to look like something has been done. If I had canned all the pickles instead of quick brine and ferment, both of those shelves would be full of just pickles. Instead, an entire shelf of the refrigerator is full of pickles too. Most of those will go to Son 1’s family and we will eat the refrigerated ones for months.

I began some more clean up of the garden this morning, but after two cool mostly wet days, it got too hot, too humid, too fast this morning. The asparagus tops are fading, so I am going to cut them back and hope it helps the remaining tomatoes to ripen. The cucumber vines are going to be pulled and chopped and probably the second planting bean plants as well. All of that vegetable matter will be added to the compost pile for next spring’s compost and I need to get a quick sprouting green cover in several of the beds to overwinter them. The peas are several inches tall and I still haven’t strung trellis line on the poles I set when I planted them. We are looking forward to having more fresh peas and more to freeze.

The new battery operated line trimmer was a very good purchase. I got all the way around the house, gardens, coop, and vineyard on half a charge. I still need to do the well head, the culverts, and the lower yard hydrant, maybe when it cools off later this afternoon.

There is still plenty to do in the gardens and yard. After trimming, I realized how weedy the day lily bed had gotten, so a few minutes were spent pulling the smart weed, grass, lambs quarters, and a pig weed from the bed, all tossed to the chickens with the tomato skins and cucumber and bean ends. The yard needs to be mowed again, but I need a cooler day to tackle that job.

I’m off to pick my few apples in hopes of a batch of applesauce to add to the remaining couple of jars from last year.

Stay safe everyone.

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.