Tag Archives: subsistence

Full Moon – Tomato Moon Crests

Thunder Moon was the wrong name. I said, a mo(o)nth and a half ago, that the minor drought conditions seemed to be lifting.
I was wrong.
It’s been weeks and weeks of oppresive, heat and almost zero rain. Things have been so dry that one of my tomato plants tastes like… the tomatoes taste like salt and bananas, if you can believe it.
I’m pretty sure part of why I’m writing this today, after weeks of no updates, is because (yes, it’s Full Moon today[1], BUT) the heat broke, just a little bit. It rained over night, and I don’t feel nearly so exhausted.
 
I cut down most of my mustard greens today. They’re a cold weather crop that bolts much faster than I expected. Between the tiny leaves on the bolted stalks and the general heat-wilt, we just haven’t been eating them. Late August is coming, and I am hoping to plant out some rainbow chard (again – I have about two rainbow chard plants, and they are struggling. The rest never even jerminated, that I can tell) for an autumn harvest. Considering using a totally-threadbare tank top, stretched over a dollar-store trellis, as a sun-shade so that the seeds will jerminate, instead of cook, this time ’round. (I have a LOT to learn, folks. You should see my neighbour’s crops. They’re all doing just dandy!)
I have bought zucchini and curly (Scotch?) kale at the market. My plan is to process that stuff for frozen veggies over winter today. That and, hopefully, drag my ass out to harvest choke cherries.
 
I feel like “nothing is getting done”, even though that’s not really true.
I started my Life Coaching sessions (just barely), about 10 days ago, and did a lot of soul-searching / psyche-digging (more psyche-digging) to answer my coach’s initial questions (more on that in another post).
I went to Queer in the Kitchen and learned how to make sour kraut (which is now sitting, doing its Fermentation Thing, and should (in theory) be ready to eat around Labour Day Weekend) and offered to do a water-bath-canning class for them (we’ll see if that actually happens, but I’m excited at the possibility)
I’ve gone dancing a bunch of times, and started chatting about tarot cards with someone who DJ’d one of those dances and then went to the sour kraut workshop.
I’ve written more poetry for “How to Cook a Heart” and (finally) did a little bit more work on The Novel (yesterday).
 
And yet… I feel like all I do is make dog harnesses and eat ice cream while wilting in the heat. The thought of turning the oven on is enough to make me want to Never Cook Again (or at least not until we get our usual cold snap in early September). I feel like buying vegetables from the market, when they are the same kind of vegetables I planted (zucchini, cooking greens, eggplants), is cheating. Like we should just live off of grocery store root veggies + the roma tomatoes I was planning to buy and can anyway this winter, rather than giving us some minor variety in our diet by paying for things I was expecting to successfully grow myself. The house is a constant mess, and I don’t even know where to start with it.
 
When I look at where I was, this time last year, I was so hopeful. And what I feel now is tired. Like a waste. Like “why do I bother” and “why am I here”. When did I stop being hopeful and start feeling like I needed to justify my continued existence?
…And yet, when I cut the cards on my new tarot deck (the Mary El one), the card I pulled is the Queen of Cups, cancer’s crab – all feelings, all the time – climbing from her heart to her throat.
The questions my life coach asked me, two weeks ago, were to get a handle on what I want to accomplish through the coaching. Unsurprisingly, the single word we boiled things down to is Receptivity. Maybe I could have gone with “worthiness”, but – like my coach’s preliminary suggestion of “self-sufficiency”, it’s too easy to turn that into something that will hurt me rather than help me. Too easy to turn that into the “shame dance” of trying to prove to someone else that I’m worthy (of love, of care, of anything other than a kick or a curse), rather than teaching myself not to brush off kindness like it’s something I shouldn’t need.
 
I read – or tried to read – my most recent tarotscope (via Siobhan’s Mirror, ‘scope itself done by Marianne at Two Sides Tarot), which said… I don’t actually know what it said. Because I read this bit:

Before we get into that, though, can you take a moment to recognize just how capable and skilled and creative and worthy you are?

 
…And just stopped. Like: Nope. Can’t do that right now. Can’t do that at all. Why are you lying to me, horoscope-person? I can’t deal with this crap.
 
Like, if I say that I’m worthy, and mean it; if I say that I’m capable and skilled and creative… then why have I not done more than this? Why am I not pumping out poetry – good, well-crafted poetry that only needs some polishing to make it worth publishing – every day? Why am I just sad and tired all the damn, stupid time? Why is my novel still languishing in it’s half-finished state? Why is my house so filthy and over-stuffed? Why is my larder so full of things I bought, instead of things I made?
 
I’ve been reading Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey (a book of very short poems and lots of doodles), and she has one that says “How you love yourself is // how you teach others // to love you”.
And I don’t love myself.
If I did, I would probably treat myself better, not brush off someone’s “how are you” as a formality, not beat myself up so much.
I don’t have a clue were my self-inflicted nastiness came from. I guess… some part of me thinks that being worth caring for is entirely bound up with how much abuse I’m willing to take?
I don’t know. It’s dumb, and I need to cut it out.
I don’t love myself, and I need to learn how.
Life Coach is showing me The Plan for this on Wednesday.
I hope I can make it work.
I am so sick of feeling like this.
 
 
~*~
 
 
Motion: A lot of walking. A lot of dancing. One really, really long bike ride (2 weeks ago, 27 km round trip – with 7 hours of harness-making in the middle) followed by barely being able to take a single (long, fairly big, but still) hill on my normal bike the next day. Getting back on the bike on Wednesday, but I don’t think I’ll be riding to work again any time soon.
 
Attention: Paying attention to ripe tomatoes, chokecherries ready for harvest. The water levels in my garden. The sky, praying for more rain.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for multiple modeling jobs this week and into the next; for the way my wife smiles at me in the morning (adn the fact that she wears crop tops…); for hanging on a corner in the Market, watching fireworks, with a bunch of random strangers (and being able to tell them why they were happening, because I am apparently a know-it-all…); for getting some work done on my novel; for the half-cracked pear tree branch that has falling over our yard, sitting on top of my neghbour’s trellis, and the tree-owner telling me to harvest as many as I could reach… just to wait until early September so that they’ll actually be ripe. (So, guess who’s making pear butter this year!). There are good things in my life, and I need to rmeember that.
 
Inspiration: Read Juliet Takes a Breath the other day. Between that and watching queer kids (ages 12-15) get excited about drawing at Manga Camp (I was their model. They thought I looked like Harley Quinn. I’ll take it. 😉 ) I am chock full of “Yay, Adorable Babies!” which feels pretty great.
 
Creation: Was able to dive into my own novel (finally, again) to do some re-structuring. That felt really good. I still have to finish the damn thing, but it’s something.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Actually, it’s totally not for another week. Woops. >.>

Kefir – First Attempt

This is getting filed under the “cheese” tag, even though Kefir isn’t technically a cheese[1] but is more like a yoghurt that you drink. Still it’s a fermented dairy product, so I’m tagging it “cheese” and running with it.
 
I’ve been reading about mesophilic yoghurt-like cultured dairy products and decided to try making kefir because (a) I drink, like, two litres of that stuff a week, when I have the chance, and (b) the local Indie Hippy Food Mart had dairy-kefir starters (but nothing for matsoni or filmjolk or other thicker mesophilic cultures). Er… Mesophilic means that it cultures/ferments at room temperature rather than at somewhat-warmer-than-room-temperature, meaning that I can set it up in a warm corner of the kitchen and just let it do it’s thing for a couple of days and then strain it through a mash bag, and voila! I’ve got a drinkable yoghurt-substitute that I can use in baking (the same way as I use the milk that, ah, “wild-ferments”[2] in the fridge with distressing frequency) but that I’m also comfortable using as a breakfast drink.
 
I’m pretty happy with the results, so far. I mean, it’s my first attempt. It’s setting up really nicely, strained well and, while I definitely want something firmer than kefir is ever going to get, the taste of the stuff is pretty good. I want to let it ferment for another day or so – I like my yoghurt sharp, and this stuff still tastes a bit of the mild sweetness of milk left to warm on a counter top.
That said, some of it is going to get baked into muffins tonight (my lovely wife has asked me to make them on the regular because they make a good lunch substitute that can be spread out over the course of a long day in the shop which… is fantastic, but is also (I confess) incentive for me to get myself some whole wheat pastry flour and cut more of the sugar out of the coffee-cake-based recipe I’ve been adapting already[3]). More of it will be sampled tomorrow morning – possibly sweetened & flavoured with some of last summer’s vanilla-nectarine preserves that I can (hopefully) whisk in before serving it up.
I could potentially use some of it to dress tonight Fabulous (if not very fancy) Friday Dinner – basa baked with tomato-peach salsa and rice, but I will probably go with store-bought yoghurt – which has the consistency I want, and which I have hanging out in the fridge right now – instead.
 
I’m using a kefir starter – a powder that you stir into the milk and let do it’s thing – rather than kefir grains (which, as I understand it, are SCOBY-like lumps that live in the bottom of your fermentation jar and that you save and re-use over and over again to keep making new batches of kefir). So I’m not exactly fermenting things “for real” just yet. But it’s a nice way to start, and I’m really excited about the results and the potential used for what I’ve made.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] As a mesophilic ferment, that also includes thermophilic beasties, it CAN be used as the bacteria in various cheese-making adventures. This may or may not happen at a later date.
 
[2] Speaking of which, the Unknown Cheese that I made by accident in early January? I let it keep doing it’s thing and… Okay. While I wasn’t brave enough to try eating it, the result when I (urgh…) threw it out was actually… It had a consistency that was just slightly firmer than cream cheese or chevre, smelled somewhere between double-cream brie and blue cheese (meaning: stinky as fuck, but in a recognizable way), and was turning a fairly uniform pale orange.
Part of me wishes I’d hung onto it a little bit longer, just to see what developed. You never know. It might have been something good.
 
[3] I’m imagining a mix that includes extra eggs (AKA: the called-for number of eggs, rather than half of them) plus a couple of tablespoons of pumpkinseed- or peanut-butter, at least some whole wheat flour (probably half-and-half), and maybe some cooked amaranth mixed in with the cocoa, dried cranberries, pumpkin butter, chocolate chips (hell, yeah), and crumbled pecans.

Cauldron of Plenty – Red Velvet Morning Glory Breakfast Muffins

Okay. So I started volunteering at a local Food Centre[1] just last week, because I like to cook/bake, and I like to feed people, and because I like the way this place has a “waste not, want not; use what you’ve got” attitude, and is totally comfortable with people (me) experimenting with their largely-donated larder in order to make things work.
One thing that I’m learning is how to cook in Very Large Batches, because they make stuff like granola, soup, and chili by the vat.
 
Today I made (up) a muffin recipe that resulted in about six dozen average-size muffins and was stuffed full of fruits, veggies, and seeds. It started out as a morning glory muffins recipe, but I didn’t know where the raw carrots were (yet), so I went hunting in the freezer for apples blueberries and stuff, and wound up finding a bag of frozen, pre-cooked, diced beets. There was cocoa in the cupboard. It just sort of (re-) wrote itself from there.
 
 
~*~
 
Red Velvet Morning Glory Muffins (makes ~6 dozen)
INGREDIENTS
 
5C mashed, cooked beets
4C grated carrots
2C mashed, frozen bananas (alternatives: 2C fruit butter; 2C mashed, steamed pumpkin – though they won’t be as sweet if you use pumpkin in place of banana)
1C apple sauce
+
3 C oil
½ C molasses
½ C maple syrup
¼ C vanilla extract (I use the fake stuff)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
+
8 C flour (I used polished wheat / all-purpose, but whole-wheat-pastry, or your favourite 1:1 GF mix would presumably work just fine, too)
2 C rolled oats (or rolled quinoa, or maybe even corn meal or cooked amaranth)
4 C brown sugar
1 C cocoa
2 tbsp each: ginger, cinnamon, cloves
3 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
+
2 ½ C shredded coconut (untested alternatives: shredded hazelnuts, possibly Himalayan Balsam seeds, too)
2 C pumpkin seeds
2 C dried cranberries (or raisins, or dried cherries, you get the idea)
 
 
DIRECTIONS
 
Preheat the oven to 350F
Blend the wet ingredients together in an absolutely massive bowl
Add the dry ingredients
Add the dried fruit and seeds and such
Mix everything together until well-blended
Spoon into VERY well-greased muffin pans (I was using that spray-on-oil stuff with non-stick pans, but usually I use paper muffin liners and don’t worry about greasing things at all)
Bake at 350 for ~35 minutes. Use your nose and the fork test starting at the half-hour mark, or earlier if need be[1]
Let the muffins stand for a minute or two to cool (slightly) and get set
Pop them out of their trays, one at a time (or not), and let them stand on a wire rack (you will need 2 very, VERY big wire racks for this) until they cool completely.
Serve and enjoy.
 
~*~
 
 
So there you go.
 
This recipe is, handily, vegan and takes about 2 hours to mix and bake the entire batch. It can definitely be halved, or even quartered, if the amounts are really daunting, but if you have an event – whether that’s a bakesale, a large planning meeting, or a pot-luck breakfast – where you need a LOT of baked goods that taste good and can still at least pass for “healthy”? This is the way to go.
I haven’t tried freezing them but, as far as I can tell, muffins tend to do pretty well if you freeze them for long-term storage, so if you wanted to (and have the space), you could throw this together of a quiet morning and have a breakfast go-to that you could pull out, half-a-dozen at a time, for ages.
 
Give them a shot, if you’re so inclined.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I baked most of these at the same time, in the same oven, so the top rack’s muffins were “just done” when the bottom rack’s muffins were definitely starting to get crispy. Nobody will be mad at you if you bake them 2-dozen at a time, rather than all at once, and you stand a better chance of not burning things, so.

How to Turn 30lbs of Tomatoes into Three Different Preserves in Just Five Hours

Hey!
Okay. So, as recently mentioned, a friend of mine and I spent the afternoon canning tomatoes. In the interests of avoiding (a) a lot of extra work, but also (b) a lot of drippy, scalding-hot mess and burnt fingers, I re-jigged my usual tomato recipes so that they involved the Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes recipe which goes as follows (NOTE: You’re going to need 2-3 very large, like 9L+, pots to get all three recipes cooked and canned in the alotted time):
 
Very Easy Crushed Tomtoes
 
Wash, core, and rough-chop your tomatoes (also cut out any bad bits, clearly)
Puree the chopped tomatoes in a food processor, in batches and pour them into the biggest pot you have
For every gallon of tomato puree add:
1C vinegar
0.5C granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt

 
Stir the mixture until all is well-incorporated
Cook down, with the lid off-centre to allow the water to evaporate more quickly, until the mixture is darker and quite a bit thicker, but isn’t nearly thick enough to be called “sauce” just yet
Pour/ladel into sterlized glass jars (we sterilized our jars in the oven today, at 225F for 20 minutes – works like a charm, but you still have to boil the lids and rings)
Cap, and process for 15-20 minutes in a boiling water bath
 
~*~
 
And that’s the Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes recipe.
 
From here, you can choose your own adventure.
Either (a) Roasted-garlic tomato sauce, or (b) Tomato-peach salsa.
 
 
Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
 
Start with ~4L Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes
Dice 1 large, red onion and 3 BULBS of garlic, drizzle with oil, and broil on a cookie sheet for about half an hour (or until they smell done).
Put the onion and garlic mixture into a food processor
Add: 2 tbsp dried rosemary, 2 tbsp dried oregano, 2 tbsp dried savoury, and a grind or five of black pepper and blend until smooth
Add the garlic mixture to the crushed tomatoes and stir until reasonably well incorporated
Cook down until things start to thicken up nicely
Using an imersion (stick) blender puree the sauce until it is very fine indeed
Allow the sauce to cook down further until it’s reasonably thick, but not too much[1]
Sterilize some jars of appropriate size (ours went into 1L jars today, but whatever works)
Into each jar include 1tbsp vinegar and 0.5tbsp granulated sugar per 500mL (1pint) of volume
Pour/ladel sauce into sterilized jars
Cap, and process for 15-20 minutes in a boiling water bath.
 
~*~
 
Tomato-Peach Salsa
 
Start with ~4L Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes
Dice 1 large, red onion and mince 1 BULB of garlic
Peel, pit, and dice your ripe peaches until you have 2L diced peaches (I would guess this is about 1.5lb peaches to start with)
Using scissors, snip 6 mild dried chili peppers (I used dried New Mexico chilies, but you could also dice up 6-10 fresh jalapenos if you wanted to)
Add the peaches, onion, garlic, and dried chilies to the crushed tomatoes and mix until well incorporated
Add to the mixture: 3 tbsp dried cilantro, 3 tbsp dried basil, and 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes
Cook down (over low heat, otherwise it will totally scorch to the bottom of the pot… ask me how I know >.>) until the mixture has thickened up nicely[2].
While the salsa thickens, sterilize some jars.
Into each pint jar, add: 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 dried very-hot chili pepper (I used dried Arbol chilies, but you could use fresh Thai/Bird chilies if you wanted to).
Pour/ladel salsa into hot, sterilized jars
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 15-20 minutes
 
~*~
 
So there you have it.
Five hours. Three types of tomato preserves in large quantities (well, if you’re me…).
Tomorrow it do most if it again in order to make (a) moar crushed tomatoes, and (b) moar (and thicker!) tomato sauce.
 
Wish me luck, folks!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Full disclosure:I actually prefer my tomato sauce to be a fairly thick mix, and today’s results are more liquid than I like. We canned them when we did because my friend had to leave to pick up her kids. Otherwise, we might have let them lose another litre of water-content before canning them.
 
[2] Because we’re starting with tomato purree, and also because of time constraints, we didn’t make as chunky a salsa as I typically go for. I’m thinking of this as more of a sauce for cooking things in – like pouring it over fish or beans, for example – than as a sauce for dipping tortilla chips into as a snack. YMMV.

Tomato-Palooza 2015! (Recipes to Follow…)

So, my canning party for two was today.
Over the course of five hours, we canned 30lbs of tomatoes (roughly), and I now have 10lbs more in various stages of “on the go” (3-4lbs are in the slow-cooker already, with a pound or two (about 15 tomatoes) sliced into rounds and doing their thing in the dehydrator, and the rest sitting, already chopped, in bowls in the fridge – I need to get The Biggest Pot cleaned up before I can finish the rest…).
 
I’ve got one more 20lb box (or most of it) washed, but left whole, sitting in a plastic tub in the bottom of my fridge so that they don’t get mouse-contaminated over night.
 
Still. Having also gone through 0.8L sugar and 1.5L vinegar (maybe slightly more), plus 2L diced peaches, 2 large red onions, and about 5 bulbs of garlic, in addition to those tomatoes, what we got so far is:
4L crushed tomatoes
4.5L roasted-garlic-balsamic tomato sauce
3L (all in pint jars) tomato-peach salsa
 
Most of the above (except for slightly more than half the salsa) went home with my friend today, which was the plan. The only ingredients I’m running right out of are the ones for the salsa, thense me making sure I got some of the big batch we made.
 
The plan is to get another 4L of crushed tomatoes (mostly in pint jars, some of it heading my friend’s way), somewhere between 6C and 12C more roasted-garlic balsamic tomato sauce (in, ideally, half-cup jars), and to put the rest of the romas, thinly sliced into rounds, into the dehydrator so that I can chuck them into stews and similar over the winter. We’ll see if I’ve got the math right on that, mind you.
 
The goal of this whole escapade was multi-fold, but basically boils down to “Pay up front, with a day-or-two’s worth of time, energy, and attention, in order to have numerous weeks worth of convenience food lined up and ready to go”.
And I think we’re getting well on our way.
 
Something I’m doing this year that I don’t tend to do “automtically” is using pint jars for my tomato preserves. In years past, I’ve gone for one-cup jars (salsa, diced tomatoes, bruchetta-in-a-jar) and half-cup jars (fancy tomato sauce), and only reached for the pint jars when I ran out of other options. Partly this has been to stretch my tomato preserves over as many meals as possible, and partly it’s been because “preserved tomatoes” are enough of an acquired taste for me that I wanted to be sure my portion sizes were small enough that I could use up a whole jar in the space of one meal and not need to worry about eating jarred tomtoes more than once in a week ifI didn’t want to. (I have since come to basically rely on jarred tomatoes for multiple meals per week over the course of the winter, so that’s not so much an issue now).
 
That said, I’m still planning on doing my tomato sauce in half-cup jars, because it’s a good one to give away as a gift, and I find that a little bit goes a long way when it comes to meals for 2-3 people.
Regardless, with my “overnight” machines – my slow-cooker and my dehydrator – doing their thing in the kitchen, and all of my remaining tomatoes hidden safely away in the fridge, I’m calling it a night. There’s plenty more to do in the morning.
 
Heh. Other people use this Super Moon energy to get creative work done on canvases and computer screens. Aparently, I put it towards a winter’s worth of jarred tomatoes.
You do what works. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Partying Because We Can (and also because we make puns about preserves)

Hello!
 
The moon is waxing. My neighbour just gave me a bag of cherry tomtoes. I have my own cherry (and sauce) tomatoes to pick in the next 36 hours as well, since they’re definitely ready to be harvested. AND I’m spending this Saturday – as that lovely, full, super Apple Moon gets ready to rise – hitting up the local farmer’s market with an awesome friend and then hanging out in my kitchen with her, making All Things Tomato.
 
We will be doing primarily Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes[1], and then making a variation on last year’s tomato-peach salsa wherein we’ll be using nectarines instead of peaches (and, hopefully, not having to peel the nectarines… though we’ll manage if we do need to do that). I’m going to see if I can re-jig the recipe so that it uses already-crushed tomatoes (instead of diced ones), so that we can just make the salsa by adding a dozen diced nectarines, plus rough-chopped garlic, onions, and various dried peppers, herbs, and spices to the last third-or-so of the crushed tomatoes. I think I can work that out.
 
I’ll still be making my usual fancy tomato sauce although this year’s will (a) not include any peppers, and (b) WILL include some minced basil, oregano, and savoury from the garden (and some dried rosemary from the cupboard).
I think I can probably set this up so that the cores from our Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes, along with a few litres of actual tomato puree, go into my slow cooker (and into a pitcher in the fridge, in the case of some of the puree) fairly early in the day so that they can be turned into sauce on Sunday.
 
Fingers crossed. The whole idea is to get as many different tomato products sorted out and jarred in one go as possible. We’ll be buying about 60lbs worth of tomatoes (is that too many?) so we may end up do some in the oven as the kind of herb-and-garlic roasted tomatoes that you can chuck in a tupperware and freeze, too. The cherry tomatoes from my neighbour will probably get slicedinto halves and done in the dehydrator… because why not? 😀 Although that may not happen on Saturday. 😉 Not sure yet.
 
This time, last week, I was harvesting apples from my friend’s back-yard tree (she also has a crab-apple tree and an Evans cherry – how cool is that?), and the last of the apple butter (about 3L, done up in 1C jars) is processing on the stove right now. I spent yesterday making vanilla-ginger nectarine jam (with some ground-cherries thrown in, just ’cause I had them lying around) – a recipe which resulted in ten half-cup jars (so just over one litre, really) of the sweet stuff, and my cupboards are starting to feel less bare.
 
Tomorrow, I have a date with a neighbourhood friend’s choke cherry tree (and her step ladder). I’m hoping to haul home upwards of 3L worth of choke cherries… which should net me, after some cooking and straining, about 5-6C worth of juice and cherry pulp. The plan for that is to make a chokecherry chutney that’s full of basil, mint, and rosemarry (rather than spices – although there will also be cloves in there, for what it’s worth), by mixing it up with herbs, yes, but also red onion, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, dried cranberries (and maybe dried currants), black plums if I can find them, and a red onion.
 
If I can manage to snag some of the big, toonie-sized crab apples from the trees around town, that will be particularly excellent, because crab apple jelly is a wonderful thing. Getting my hands on some of my neighbour’s pears wouldn’t hurt, either, although I’ll live if I don’t make pear butter this year. After that, we’re mostly down to waiting until this time next month (or, probably, a little bit later), so that I can make pumpkin butter before heading to Toronto for Thanksgiving.
 
So, what I’m saying, is that the Big Canning Push for 2015 is happening this week.
O.O
 
Wish me luck, folks! 😀
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] You core your tomatoes, puree them in a food processor, and then cook them down, seeds and peels and all (with a little vinegar and a little sguar and that’s about it) until they’re halfway between “sauce” and “juice”.

Lammas 2015 NON-Pictorial Garden Update

Yeah, I didn’t take pictures this time.
 
Or, rather, I’ve got a shot of my one yellow zucchini (or crook-neck – whatever summer squash I managed to dig in there), but that’s about it. It’s a lovely zucchini. It finished ripening indoors,though, and now that it’s a lovely deep-mustardy colour, I think it’s ready to be thinly sliced and sautteed with a boat worth of butter and a lot of our cherry tomatoes.
The sad thing is that there’s a good chance it’ll be our only one.
 
I know, right? Only one zucchini??? How is that even possible?
 
Oh, let me tell you: It’s possible.
 
I’m resigning myself to a very limitted squash-family harvest this year. I read, long before I actually planted anything, that squash plants need a good 18″-24″ of soil to dig their roots into if they’re going to get strong and do their vining, prolifically-fruiting thing. My garden beds are one 12″ deep.
So maybe it’s not surprising that they’re not doing so well.
Still, I live in hope and check my blossoms for any that look like turning into fruit. Next year, I’ll be ammending my raised beds – and adding extra depth to them, so that stuff like squash and our valient rhubarb can really get their roots dug in well.
 
At least I’m doing well (ish) in the tomato department. I pulled about 45 tomatoes off the vines today. No, yes, they are miniature tomatoes. But that’s fine by me. While I’d have been happier to be pulling in 30 full-sized sauce tomatoes (as opposed to half a dozen frequently-on-the-small-side sauce tomatoes) every other day, I’ll take what I can manage.
 
My chard is looking beautiful – a bit of a relief, I don’t mind telling you – and I’ll have to go out and give it all a hair cut again in the next 24 hours, and put up another big bouquet or two in the freezer. (That’s one thing I’m reasonably sure we won’t run out of – the chard should stick around until Hallowe’en, maybe a tiny bit longer, but the kale will probably hold out into December, and that’s not counting the stuff I’ve put in the freezer).
 
I’ve decided to just “go with the flow” on the garden, this year, and go ahead a buy tomatoes and beans and such-like to preserve for the winter. I’ll be getting 20lbs of tomatoes about two weeks from now (along with a couple of pounds of nectarines, from the farmer’s market), and I’ve already preserved three cups worth of beans (some from the garden, most from the farmer’s market) as mustard-garlic-tumeric pickles, plus made Goblin Fruit Jam from some wild-harvested choke cherries (and black currants left over from last year). At least my vegetable garden will keep us in fresh veggies over the summer (and, by the looks of things, into the fall), plus provide lots of frozen greens for the winter time. That’s a lot, even if it’s not as much as I was hoping for.
 
Beyond that, while most of the beebalm and all of the daylilies and columbines are done, my front garden is chock full of Mystery Plant and borrage and morning glories and nasturtiums and wild (and invasive) creeping bell flower[1]. I would love to get some mallow flowers, black (or dark purple) hollyhocks, cornflowers, scilla, and black tulips in there next year (or this fall, as the case may be), but for now, I’m enjoying my heavy-on-the-pink garden and the bees that it brings my way[2].
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1]Although apparently you can eat the roots, young shoots, and leaves of this plant. It’s the “rampion” of Rapunzel fame, if you were wondering. 🙂 Aparently the roots actually taste a bit more like a nutty radish than onions or ramps (and the leaves allegedly taste a bit like peas?), but who knows? I guess there’s one way for me to find out. 😉
 
[2] My milkweed brings all the bees to the yard // And they’re like: It’s better than yours // Damn right, it’s better than yours // I could teach you, but I’d have to charge…