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Friday, September 12, 2014

More Hot Stuff.

Curtido.
The last of the chili peppers went into the Excalibur this morning, with one tray of jalapenos.  I have about three more trays-worth and the hot peppers are done.  Since the guest room/root cellar is also my drying room, I had to move the potatoes, garlic and curtido to a cooler spot.  I decided to try it - it's been fermenting for a couple of weeks.  It still had a nice crunch, so I capped up the smaller jar and put it in the fridge.  It is a spicy sauerkraut type condiment.  I really like it and can sit it paired with all kinds of things.  The larger jar will continue to ferment for another week or so both for more probiotic content and because I  have no room in the fridge! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hot stuff.

While that could have been me about a hundred years ago, today it refers to my most recent kitchen-work.  Dehydrating hot peppers.  Thanks to the bounty of Moses Farm (those Moses of the Grandma Moses Moses...), I had a nice pile of various hot peppers to dry.  I love, love, love spicy food - although it doesn't like me as much as it used to.  Even so, I still try to spice things up as much as I can take.  This usually means a violent coughing/choking jag at the onset, then my system settles down and I can carry on. 

These beautiful chili peppers are destined to be dried and ground:


Shortly after this was taken, I had to go to the back of the house.  In that short time span, Lovey - she who has decided to surf the counters - carted off a line of them into the living room.  I do believe she only got one tooth in one pepper before there was some serious and lengthy slurping of the water dish.  Good thing she didn't try to taste test the habaneros...

Besides all the tomato processing, I am going to take advantage of the lovely peppers (non-hot) and make up a few batches of a great vegetarian stuffed pepper recipe.  Following the lead of my hero, Mama Pea, I am going to freeze up a number of future dinners.  Bring on winter!  (Kidding.  It can just take it's good old time and arrive in January....)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The faster I go, the behinder I get.

You won't be hearing a lot from me the next week or so.  I am canning my hiney off and trying to keep up with the endless list of to-dos outside.  I thought I would give you a quick update so you didn't think I had fallen off the edge of the earth.

My tomatoes were very "meh" this year.  Since I have access to a cornucopia of tomatoes and peppers at the farm field, I think I may restrict my tomato-growing to a couple of cherries and an heirloom or two.  (Would someone volunteer to remind me in the Spring?  Before the seed catalogues arrive?)  My peppers are taking an ICE AGE to ripen, thanks to the weird weather this summer.  After going through a week of high, humid temps, we are now in the 40s in the morning.  My peppers are confused.  I have to yank the cucumbers this weekend - I am so over them.  Thanks to very little rain, my beloved popcorn is starting to topple - I am watering them morning and night now.  I kept waiting for Ma Nature to step in.  Fickle wench.

The small coop needs cleaning out this weekend, so that I can get it ready for the Screaming Meemies - also known as the Langshans.  I have never, in my poultry raising history, had such a hysterical bunch.  This should be fun.  The enclosure needs to be replaced, but there is no time on my schedule for the next few months to do it, so it's been relegated to next year.  We will all have to manage.

I am dehydrating peppers and canning various tomato products on a daily basis.  I think I may follow my friend, Fiona's lead and start dehydrating tomatoes with snipped basil on top.  What a great snack idea!  Also on the list of to-dos is to sort through my canning stock to see what needs using up.  My great plan to catalogue my canned goods was derailed this past winter by....who knows....so I am paying for it now.

Work has been exceptionally stressful these past two weeks.  It's a reporting period, which is bad enough, but now that I am a Team Of One, all the rest of the duties are keeping me hopping.  The good thing is that it makes the day go fast.  The bad thing is that it means I am quickly depleting my wine supply...

I went out last night to feed the sheep and, lo and behold, Linden was on the wrong side of the fence.  The gate was intact, there were no holes, lifts, pushdowns or other breaches of the fence line.  The only thing I could figure was that he managed to squeeze his 'fluffy' self through the bungee'd gate and pop out the other side.  He has always been my problem child.  I had to trot quickly into the barn and get a scoop of grain to lure him back in.  He must have been out for a while, as he was pretty darn thirsty.  I have now (I hope) Lindenized the gate.

 
All's well that ends well.
Hard to believe that THAT can fit through
this...


There were two heavy-duty bungees
on the gate.  There are now THREE.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My (bushel) basket overfloweth. Or how I spend my days off.

Lying around, eating bon bons, reading at the beach - they're all overrated.  Give me a day, jam-packed with sustainable activity and I am a happy camper.  (Anyone willing to come down/up/over here and intervene?  Anyone?)

Yesterday was the day the Nuggets went off to Freezer Camp.  And none too soon.  This particular batch of CornishXzombiechickens was immense!  DS Melanie arrived with her trust Subaru Baja at 7:30A and we commenced with the loading.  The first sign of trouble was that the Nuggets were too large and too many to fit in the XL dog crate we always use.  She of Incredibly Fast Thinking (that would be Melanie, not I), took one of my tarps, folded it in half, slid one half on the bed of the truck with the fold facing aft.  (Can you tell my parents were both in the Navy?)  We put up the tailgate, then hefted the Nuggets in pairs into the bed of the truck.  It was packed solid.  Then the other end of the tarp was carefully and securely battened up and over them, with plenty of space for air.

Off we went.  We picked up her husband and dropped him off at his rehab center, then headed the hour north to the processor.  It was a beautiful day for a drive and it is always so much fun to spend time with my DS.  The second mistake was giving in to a large Pumpkin Spice coffee.  This processor is out in the hinterlands - the facility is very basic.  It's for the processing of poultry.  There are no 'His and Her" restrooms.  There are no restrooms.  As we stood, waiting for the birds to cool so we could pack them up and head back, I found myself scoping out the various and sundry outbuildings as to a) blockability, b) no prickly vegetation, c) closeness of vicinity as things were getting dicey.  At the last minute, Jeff came out with our 500# of poultry (kidding - but not by much...), we quickly loaded the Baja and bumped our way to the nearest clean bathroom.  It was close.

As we stood outside talking about this and that, waiting for the process to finish, I noticed a house waaaaaay up on top of a mountain across from his farm.  Turns out the fellow who owns it has a train whistle.  Which he activates every time he wants his wife to bring him a drink.  Day and night.  Especially night.  And he drinks a lot.  So much for the peace and quiet of the country.

We picked DS' husband up from rehab, stopped at her house, got him situated, lugged the Nuggets (now nice and quiet and unstinky) into cooler places, then back into the car we went to go pick tomatoes and peppers from a local farm field.  You know that feeling you get when you spy a pepper plant laden with beautiful, ripe veges?  And you know you will have to do something with said veges besides look lovingly at them?  Well, it overtook me and I came home with this:

The bushel basket at the top is DS Melanie's.
Look at the size of the pepper in comparison to the
tomatoes!

Mine was half and half - half tomatoes, half
peppers.  And I am going back for more.

By the time we reached Melanie's house for the third time, we were dragging.  But we schlepped her bushel basket into her house, checked on her husband, fed the sheep, then schlepped the Nuggets (minus her share) back into the Baja, then back to the LLF.  I don't mind saying that I almost wept when I saw my homesweethome.  But more schlepping was in order, then a quick hello to the happy dogs, then off she went again.  I staggered in and called the Nugget shareholders to please, please, please come get them soon.  Which they did.  Then I did my shortened evening chores - no more stuffing those behemoths into the coop at night - came in and collapsed.  Pepper was collapsed on top of me with sympathy exhaustion, 'though he slept all day in front of the fan.  Even Lovey's bounce was half the normal bounciness.  I was in bed and asleep by 8:30.  What a day!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A little of this and a lot of that.

It's taken me some time to recoup from my weekend.  I think I am definitely in need of an intervention - especially during long weekends.  It is the fate, however, of those of us who cultivate gardens and grow and process most of our own foods, that every free minute is spent either harvesting, cleaning, cooking, preserving, planning, canning, etc.  I'm not sure why I feel the drive every summer-into-fall to make sure I have enough food to carry me (and a family of twelve) through the winter.  Make that winters.

In any event, via my neighbor, he who has a garden half the size of a football field but only eats enough for a half a person, I ended up with a pile 'o tomatoes, a giant red cabbage (yes, more), a dozen ears of corn, and a half bushel of squash.  This, on top of my multitude of cukes, my own tomatoes, kale, chard, and beets.  Woof.

Thanks to Tooele Twins' comment on my cabbage post, I whipped up a batch of curtido - it's a sort of Salvadoran Kimchi.  I used a half of a giant cabbage (so far, I've managed to fob off the other half and a whole giant one), two carrots, a chopped hot pepper of some type, the name of which escapes me, Mexican oregano (I only had my own), red pepper flakes, and a thinly sliced onion.  Mix in approximately 3 tablespoons of salt for every five pounds of vege, mix thoroughly and squeeze with your hands, then pound it all until it releases lots of juice.  Once it's mixed well, smoosh it into your crock or jar - mine made about 3/4 of a gallon - weight it and let it ferment.  The recipe said anywhere from three days (crispier) to three weeks (more probiotics).  I am aiming for somewhere in the middle.

I also made a broccoli salad with the rest of my broccoli; a kale salad; a french lentil, cucumber, olive and feta cheese salad; canned 12 pints of roasted tomato sauce; made a new batch of kombucha; baked a loaf of multigrain GF bread for my morning tomato sandwiches; and made a roasted cherry tomato tart on a polenta crust.  Yes, indeed.  It was overkill.

One of the red cabbages that was 'over the hill'.  The chickens
found it quite tasty.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

OMG! OMG! OMG!

If it wasn't enough that I have a new driveway and soon-to-be-new-to-me garage, we have won a blue ribbon at the Fair!

 
Sorry for the lousy photo - I took this last night with a flash.
All plans to retake it this morning were scuttled, as all plans of mine
usually are...

 
Here she is, in all her glory.
 
 
She is trying to get Dotty (front left) and Kookie (front right)
to notice her 'bling' - her ankle bracelet.  They could care less.

DS Melanie's daughter actually won more than one blue ribbon at this year's County Fair.  My girl was the third wheel on her breeding set of Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. 

I have dreamed of winning blue ribbons at the fair for years - when I was young, someone on our street started a 4-H Club.  I was so thrilled.  Until I went to the first meeting.  It was all about the mother trying to force friends on her daughter.  There were no cows.  There were no chickens (well, I DID have a chicken for a while).  There were no goats, calves, pigs (other than Guinea which don't count in my little black book).  Nada.  I never went back.  Then I went to art school and forgot about county fairs.  I still may try to enter something in their jams and jellies category.  It ain't a Jersey, but it's still a ribbon!

Thank you, DS and DSD (daughter)!  We are so proud!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ain't it wonderful?

As you all know by now, it doesn't take much to thrill me.  So it should come as no surprise that I am doing the Happy Dance on .... drum roll .... MY NEW DRIVEWAY!

 
BEFORE
Obviously, this was an afterthought. The 'old'
driveway turned into mostly grass, then all grass at
the top.


 
AFTER
A virtual river of dirt.  A delirium
of earth/stones. 
Snort.
 
 
Modeling my soon-to-be-new-
to-me garage.
And my lunch bag.
 
 
The real beauty of this glorious accoutrement is that the driveway was free-ish (this remains to be seen, as I do not believe that free comes without a price) and the garage is free.  Ditto.