Independence Days, Week 6

Amie cans a quart of water

The Indian summer came, went, and came again. Last Friday we hit 37 F – cutting it pretty close – but yesterday it was 70F. It’s going to get cold again soon, though.

Plant. Moved (replanted) the 2 rhubarb plants, because in the end we chose their first bed as one of the beds to be covered by our winter hoop house. Planted 50 or so garlic cloves (3 varieties) next to the rhubarb. Sowed peas and planted onion sets for overwintering and early spring germination in outside beds. I’m investigating more winter sowing in containers here.

some onions at least made it to scallion stage, the celery is thin but tasty, the carrots are small but super sweet

Harvest. From plants still going strong: Swiss chard, kale, peas, green beans, potatoes, parsley, basil, scallions, carrots and all the culinary herbs. Last ones: cucumber, eggplant, cherry tomatoes. Pulled most of the celery for mirepoix (with own and Farmers Market carrots and Farmers Market onions).

Mirepoix in the Dutch oven

Preserve. 6 quarts of green beans, 3 pints of pickled cucumbers, 6 pints of peach pie filling  making the (preliminary) total of jars to 101… PLUS (just in) 5 pints of Caribbean peach chutney – and that‘s the end of the peaches. So 106. Froze 5 lbs of mirepoix (I first cook it in butter, until just soft; I just love chopping it up; and I could cook it every day just for the smell of it). Froze 2 quarts of vegetable stock made form scrap (mainly celery leaves).

Waste not. We had a largish party, during which I was planning to do an experiment: I was going to set out paper napkins and cloth napkins and see which were most popular. Then I noticed I was out of paper napkins, so cloth it was, and the defunct experiment was the talk of the evening. We also used metal cutlery and recycled and compostable paper plates. The ashes from the 7-hour ribs went into a ash-bin for the compost and soil improvement. Filling a large bag of veggie “waste” (e.g., celery leaves) in the fridge: once I have enough I’ll make veggie broth and freeze or can it. For the rest, we continue on with our usual stuff.

Want not. Bought more canning jars (for some reason there weren’t many 8 oz jars in my Freecycle/Craig’s List hauls) – they were on sale this time. Our toothpaste was on sale too, so now we have enough for a year. But nothing else. It’s pathetic – I really want to be better prepared, for flu or power outage or whatever, but my self pep talks on the issue fizzle out so fast. I wish I had a buddy nearby to do this with.

Build community food systems. Chatted with farmers at the Market, getting on a first name basis and getting nice discounts too – I never ask for them, and when they’re offered, I always ask: “Are you sure? I know it’s not easy for you…” Some tell me about how they are just scraping by, and I also get to see how competition among the farmers at the market plays out. It’s very educational. I also went to a Transition Town meeting, and local food is of course a large part of Transition (more on that later).

100% homegrown "shepherd's pie" filling, to be topped with homegrown potato mash

Eat the food. Ate most out of the garden and whatever is left over from canning – one evening when it was just Amie and I, I had only green beans for dinner, almost an entire quart of them. Amie was so impressed: how can anyone eat so many vegetables!? We’ve eaten nothing from our canned stores yet: it will be special, cracking open that first jar.

"See, I can do this, Mama, because I've seen how you do it!"

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