8/25... time to start really keeping some notes again. The summer has pretty much gone, or at least feels like it... No sweltering nights, the solar eclipse was cool.. and now we are getting down into the 50's overnight here... WTF, right?
So, today I got the first 14 half pints of enchilada sauce canned up- a Mild Garlic one. I was going to start doing up the Lemony Cauliflower too- got the burner and outdoor stuff set up, and started pulling together the indoor mes in place... And discovered I was almost out of white vinegar. Well shit. Had to run to town for a couple gallons of it. By the time I got back it was too late to fire up the outdoor kettle, so I brought in the burner and just prepped up the two big heads- about 6 quarts. And peeled the couple heads of garlic. By the time I was done doing that, it would indeed have been too late to fire up the big kettle.
But while I was prepping the cauliflower, I got the sauce canned up. Tomorrow I'll do up the Smokey Hot sauce while I'm doing up the Lemony Cauliflower outside.
Then I can attend to doing up the double batch of Garlic Salsa. The garlic salsa will be it's own full days cooking up. Last year a single 5 lb batch yielded a dozen half pint jars. This year I plan on doing some half pint jars, and some quarter pint ones for snacking use. So it's going to make for an extra long canning day, lol. Or maybe I'll split it up into two batches like I did with the sauce- I'm rather liking the hold and then process thing I got going on here.
And a great note... Crock Pot bags. They can be sort of pricey, but ooohhhh can be worth it. I start off the sauce in the green crockpot- to get my measurements right, lol. After burbling it up in that crock I whirred it up with a stick blender and poured it off into my blue crockpot- the next quart size up- in one of the bags to do it's overnight low and slow cooking- and it was perfect. All the wet stayed in, and the bag has corners so every last bit of it squeezed out of the bag neat as can be.
Good thing we are down to just a little hefty tray of produce left- whatever don't get eaten in Crispy Chicken Salads tonight is like gonna get used up in something tomorrow, dunno what.. but there's another hefty round of picking that needs to happen Sunday. The toothache plant needs serious picking.. and the Freds and Romans have another full round ready to pick already. I'll probably fire off a round or two of regular enchilada sauce depending on what is ready for fresh cooking- Crockpot round or two of Sloppy Joe mix needs to happen too, but those use skinned tomatoes if I'm recalling right, so I'll be sure to toss some more in the freezer.
When at the farm market where I picked up the cauliflower, I also picked up a generous "quart" of a half dozen HUGE white peaches locally grown. I IQF'd those up, and those will be held with the other bag of peaches for cold weather baking when a delightful fresh peach is a total drool.
Ah freezer action.. With mom and Bear going back to Wi and taking the deep freezes with them.. I've already been saving up my pennies to hopefully get a good deal during the Labor Day sales for a new one. Gonna need to look into another dryer too since I assume they will take theirs with them.
Got a nice good whack at cleaning up the solarium yesterday... then promptly started cluttering it up again, lol. It's always a magic-9-square game out there. We really need to get that old hot tub out of there and clean stuff up. With the cooler and dryer weather it might be more plausible to get the truck up to the back door and load that thing off to the end of the drive with a "free if you can haul it off" sign over the big weekend. Just be done with it if someone else wants to haul it off.
It's getting to be that time of year that I need to clean out the Hardy Hibiscus border in the front, and plant in some of those mums I've been growing out. Give them a bit of time to establish in and want to bloom a bit later on. I think I'm going to be tossing in a couple handfuls of the bulbs I grew out and cured up earlier this year to help flush in spring and early summer blooms too.
The Lasagna beds.. time has come to start some planting shifting. Years ago when we first moved in, I dreamed of a full line of beds of edibles.. and have found over the years our gardening needs are much better served tighter up to the house, and with the shifting of the two raised beds this year, it's confirmed. I figured at some point that a lot of fence area would get to be more dedicated over to permanent stuff over annual stuff.. And I think now the time has come to start with that on a kind of serious planning basis.
I have a nice handful of very good perennials built up now. All beneficial insect goodies. The Bronze Fennel, Blue Borage, and Lemon Balm have all established nicely in the beds. And frankly, I haven't missed the growing space for food, and the beds and nicely fallow and ready for some lovely "other". I've worked hard to establish those beds, time to finish them in. I think perhaps the large bed might be worked up into an asparagus bed. I've got a goodly round of seedlings I can grow out for planting another year- and I do have the wild beds building up back already, it would be nice to have a good close up patch at hand too.
Coming up in the orchard area is also going to be some culling out. The peachish/whatever tree is slated to come down. The Sweet Cherry Trees are going to be thinned out, and the Maple needs trimming too. The green apples might just get scrapped yet- I can plant in a good one out back. Same goes for the red apple out front too. I think with the removal of apple and peach, and thinning of sweet cherry trees.. I'd like to plant in a couple more fruit trees. Another plum or two to cross and grow with our lone Green Gauge that isn't doing much. And another dwarf sour cherry or two to produce with the one we got.
8/26: Another busy day. I got out about a quarter of nine while the shade was still good and the dew still fresh on the plants over the toothache plant bed and did a full harvest- 3 quarts of fresh flowers this time, they are already on the dehydrator. Now that I have a goodly couple gallon bags of the stuff already dried and stashed in the freezer, it's time to pull those out and vacuum seal up the crops for deep storage. I'll still get another flush or two out of the plants before frost hits.
It's also time to start culling out some of the plants themselves to distill/render out with some fats and alcohol pulling. I'd like to produce a couple of topical bits for sore muscle rubs and such. This has been such a good growing year that with some careful storage, I could have a batch to last into 2019.
After I came back in from that, it was time to set up canning. Got the big burner going and the stove, and cranked out a half dozen jars of pickled lemony cauliflower, and a couple rounds to do up the 14 half pints of smokey spicy enchilada sauce. Using the big outdoor burner for the water kettle is wonderful. I was able to use the kitchen table to stuff the cauliflower jars, and used the stove to heat up the sauce and brines. Didn't kill my stove- and was able to keep most of the heat and steam outside, yay!
Tried out a new thing- homemade corn nuts. Used about 2 cups dried corn. Followed the online recipe with big dried corn, overnight soak- the corn even went into a bag and sat in the fridge for another day before I oven toasted them up today... and tossed them with some soy and wasabi.. They are ok, but not great.. it needs tinkering.
I think the overnight soak is good.. but I think they need a short cooking too to really get a full hydration going on before they get baked. They had some dense chewy inside action that indicated not good enough hydration before baking.
Tossed the bag with about a quarter cup of veggie oil and a goodly shaking of salt. Toasted it off in 5 minute increments, stirring, for about a half hour... at the end they started wanting to pop like popcorn, so I pulled them out... but they really could have used another 5-10 minutes worth of toasting and roasting to get all of them better crispy dried. Not sure if that means I should just use a deeper pan to contain the popping, or finish them off with a goodly stovetop toasting before finishing them off. I might toss this batch back in the oven after I kill the heat after dinner to toast/dry out a bit more honestly.
I poured them hot out of the oven into a big metal bowl, and drizzled they soy over.. it actually sizzled because the corn was so hot. Stirred in a couple spoons at a time about half a can of wasabi powder, and another goodly shake of salt. It took a lot of wasabi for them to have a good hit of it. They do have a nice corn/popcorn flavor to them.. they just need a bit of tinkering to get a nice crunchy baked corn snack. Chick peas are still easier. Gonna use the other half of that can in a bit to make up a nice batch of wasabi peas, yum. I think perhaps with a better cooked up corn batch I want to try coconut oil and some caramelized sugar/spices mix. These kernels are nicely sweet enough on their own I think a good salty caramel version of this would be good.
Dinner tonight is Moms meatloaf. Roasted up four huge golden beets to pair up with that third head of glorious cauliflower I managed to not pickle up and save for dinner tonight, lol. Still got that head of cabbage languishing in the crisper, so going to do up a batch of horseradish and mustard cole slaw. Some tater tots and biscuits... slice up a plate of tomatoes and cukes with some pickles to round it off.. mmmmm.
8/27: kind of a cleanup day. Got the potting table cleaned up and such so I can start stacking other stuff on it. Cleared off and logged up the last of the bulbs finally.. pretty soon it's time to start planting them in again. That's ok.. I've scoped out the lasagna beds. Bed 1 has some nicely established blue borage, and a decent bronze fennel. Bonne plant in the Agastache Foeniculum, yellow and blue baptistias, a rosemary and a lavender, and some allium bulgaricum bulbs. Bed 2 has a great bronze fennel in the back, the lemon balms in the corners are well established and going to seed, and a nice blue borage popped up. Gonna plant in the blue eye grass and a mix of short alliums- molly and neopolitanum- yellow and white upcups of happy. Bed 3 has the best bronze fennel, and two good blue borage in the corners- think I might put in my asparagus babies there next spring.
Then the nice big clear patch around the pole. Needs a bit of cleaning, but meh.
But since I do have the other more shade loving plants too.. time to plan some planning, heh.
Solarium first. Need to dig out a goodly bit of the special irises and throw them into pots to hold up for some 2018 watching. They are the closest to the door, and I want to start keeping that space clear and open more for some spring slab plans. I also want to cull them out to plant elsewhere in the yard once I figure out what their actual blooming is. The whole wee corner could use some serious cleanup in general.. and I also have a lovely Solomons Seal to plant in back there- it prefers some shade and is a very beneficial insect friendly plant. I also have a white bleeding heart to try to get to grow too- I somehow always seem to kill bleeding hearts, sigh.
The counters are open for all the canning stuff to sit for cooling. Tried out a batch of fresh fridge cuke pickles using Milwaukee pickle juice I saved and froze up. Got another crockpot of regular enchilada sauce set up, and will turn around and repeat tomorrow- then do a double batch of pints on the big burner. Now that I've cranked out double the half pints from the 2015 tally, it's time to start working up on those pints.
After that, salsa is on hold again- I've already diced and tossed the peppers in the freezer. But since I do need skinned tomatoes for sloppy joe sauce, the ones in the freezer are going to go to doing up that batch first. I only need to do one double batch to fill the case I want to make of that.
Pulled the beer garden radish roots today, lol.. the little snubs they were, not suitable for any eating. So much for another batch of 1720 relish. They really did expend themselves on seed, which is what I really hoped for from the 7 seeds I planted last year so I can start growing them regularly... and a few seedlings are already self sowing up and need dividing to hopefully get a late fall harvest of some decent roots. Also time to set up another round of the Helios radish- that was damn fine, and we still got time before the frosts get frosty enough that I can grow out another batch.
Nasturtiums behind the kennel are looking great. So much so I'm seriously reconsidering my idea of building a raised screen for the vines to grow on for some optimal seed harvesting. The two pheonix nasts in containers haven't proven to be particularly spectacular in their blooms- but their seed should be good. The longer vines I think I might need to raise up to be able to catch as much seed goodness as I can- green or ripe for planting, I'm pretty much tapped out on all nast seed!!
8/30: For the last couple days, I've been doing a lot of cleaning and re-arranging of the living room and solarium.. Got the solarium finished cleaned up to get the hot tub out of there. It's been nothing more than a cabinet for years, and it's a huge space eater and it's time to go. I'm looking forward to the extra space to reshuffle shelves again and get some more use out of my workshop. Got a dozen pints worth of enchilada sauce sitting in the fridge to can up tomorrow, and pulled out the edamame for pickling up tomorrow as well.
Picked off another large round of tomatoes, probably another 40 pounds. I think so far I might have picked about 100 pounds total. I've already got another round of Freds cored and in the fridge to set up a crock of HOT enchilada sauce. They are far more prone to cracking than the Romans are. I also have harvested enough of the "perfume" peppers to smoke off a smoker full, those are now cooling to go into the dehydrator overnight to get crispy dry. Got enough of the Roman Candles sitting that I'm going to run a smoker full of those tomorrow and finish with dehydrating. They are such a nice dense paste that they should take to smoking particularly well. And I'm almost out of smoked tomatoes, so it will be nice to have more.
I picked up my first eyeshadow in about 20 years, lol. And it's not even to use as makeup. It's for detailing mini's with. Much like regular paints do go into the "specialty" paints like nail polish does, and I've got a lot of nail polish.. Artists chalks, pastels, and oils only go so far in the color realms- eye shadow fills in the "specialty" dust colors.
8/31... last day of August, and Labor Day weekend on right now. Had a bat in the house this morning, the three of us shooed it off to the solarium and closed it off, and it tucked up cute and tuckered out in a corner. During the day while it snoozed, we got the old hot tub out with the help of Dave and Matt. Sooo much space open now. After the tub was out, I left the inside doors open again while I was cleaning, sorting, and doing up batches of canning. Ocelot of course cried all day long about losing her favorite laying around spot and the kitchen window being closed, poor thing.
Got a dozen pints of enchilada sauce canned up. And did up that 2.5 lb bag of edamame into 9 half pint jars- one didn't seal and went into the fridge. I have to say I'm over the moon happy with having the big water bath kettle outside for this. I'd like to pick up a couple more cinder blocks to help enclose the fire ring better rather than having to shift them, lol. And one of my trivets has proven to be the perfect size to put into the bottom of the canning kettle. Since the new rack I just picked up for 15 bucks was too big, I get to return it anyway, and I'm still good to go.
It's been pretty nice to really pull apart and sort out stuff in the solarium. The hot tub cramped out space that will now be better used. I've already shifted the workbench over those crucial 10 inches to center it under the above lighting and shelving, and have dropped the series of drawers into it's corner niche properly.
9/2: Happy Labor Day weekend... I'm depressed as hell that I didn't get to go to faire this year, not once- first time in 20+ years since that has happened. Too much other going on, too much I just don't blog about here. And this weekend, it does feel like the death of summer is already been upon us, and this is more like the first nice weekend of fall than the last one of summer.
Today, I hurt. The summer is badly catching up on me, the early season malaise, the June food poisoning, the bad fall in early July that barely healed up enough to be functional for the back to back work weeks.. then the catching up on harvesting, processing, cleaning, and autumn setting up ever since then. Yesterday was a blur of doing stuff... Today started out with watering everything, laundry, firing up the smoker and setting up another load of smoked roman candle tomatoes, swapping over the other regular batch of them in the dehydrator to finish up- ended up with a couple trays of not quite done fresh sandwiched between 3 trays of smoked and on low overnight in the solarium... another round of enchilada sauce in the crockpot, this one a Flaming Fred. It's 4 heavy quarts of Freds, topped of with a few roman flames, and done up extra spicy. I've pulled the 10 lb bag of tomatoes from the freezer for making sloppy joe sauce, but they won't be thawed enough to slip till tomorrow, so I'll have to toss them into the fridge overnight.
Then it was nice to sit and relax for a bit in the car to go out to mums to drop off a couple bots and pick up the black audi to bring home. Stopped at Sawyer- got a couple glorious HUGE heads of cauliflower for 3 bucks each for more lemony cauliflower, a nice round of hot banana and sweet banana peppers, and a goodly handful of hot finger peppers- all local grown. Hit Piggotts, and picked up a 5 dollar bag deal of a large amount of hot bananas that were fully ripe and oranging out, and a cram full of a bunch of jalapenos for dehydrating. I've realized I still have a goodly store of smoked hot and mild, mild dehydrated, and smoked flaming hot peppers, but pretty much out of some standard dehydrated hots, lol. All the banana peppers I'm going to pickle up, we are out of pickled peppers of all sorts too.
And kind of a special squee- picked my my first seed packets for next year, lol. a container zuke, some foxgloves, a particularly fragrant sweet pea, and Sungold cherry tomato. With Autumn on the there is already hope for spring. The first harvest has long past, and the second coming up. The uptick is that we are only about 60 days from Halloween!
So now spaghetti sauce is simmering for dinner, and it's time to start some water.. probably well past time to finally post this entry, lol.