Saturday, July 26, 2008

I am...

...a canning virgin no more. Yup, today I took the plunge and decided to try my hand at canning before we get hit with all of the tomatoes. I used the cherries that I got at the farmer's market on Thursday and made some Cherry jam. It made 8 1/2 pint jars full. I also used the wax and green beans that I got (plus the ones I harvested) and made some dilly beans.

jam and beans

dilly beans

A couple of notes about the process of water bath canning. It took FOREVER to get my big pot to come to a rolling boil. I really need to write out a list to take me through the steps individually so that I don't forget anything. I think on one jar of jam I forgot to wipe the top ( I went back and fixed it before I put it in the pot) and on one of the jars of beans I forgot to get the air bubbles out. Also, I need to have all the fruits and veggies cut up and ready to go before I start the jars heating up. They only need to heat for ten minutes and I found myself trying to do three things at once. Next time I will have the produce ready to process and then sit and wait for ten minutes while the jars heat up.

So, basically here are the steps I need to follow next time:

1. get fruit/veggies all washed and cut and cooked.
2. put clean jars in water to heat up for ten minutes
3. put lids in hot water for ten minutes to warm the wax
4. when jars are hot, funnel food into jars
5. slide spatula into jar to get out air bubbles
6. wipe the lip of the jar off
7. put down wax seal
8. spin the lid on
9. put jars back in water and boil for desired time.

I was shocked with the amount of sugar called for in the cherry jam. I made it to recipe and used what it called for but I will look for other recipes that use less in the future. Heh, and one of the jars of dilly beans will be extra spicy because instead of putting the 1/4 tsp of cayenne in it like called for, I inadvertently put in a 1/2 tsp. Oops. I'm not going to stress out about it though. All in all I'm happy that it took about three hours from start to finish. Start being pitting all the cherries and finish being the kitchen is clean and jars are cooling. Oh, and I want to look up how to cram beans better into a jar. I don't think I got enough in the jars but I couldn't stuff any more into the jars.

In other news, much to Connor's dismay, look what showed up at the house yesterday:

Those would be his grade three curriculum with his grade 4 math. He was less than thrilled. It's cool too because the books are all brand new. Never been cracked open. I love the smell of new books. I was flipping through the lesson plans and started freaking out because it seems so advanced. I freaked out last year when I got the curriculum and thought he would tank, but he ended the year with a 98% average for all of his classes. We'll just take it as it comes and I know he's insanely smart and will do fine. I think it's more me that I'm worried about. This year I will be teaching Aidan as well. His books haven't shown up yet and he told me the other day that as soon as they were here, he wanted to start. I think I will do that because I can get a month ahead with him and it will free up some time during the official school year.

It's a gorgeous day here today. I was thinking to myself the other day how it kind of felt like fall was in the air up here. The sun has shifted ever so slightly and this week the highs have been in the 70's and 80's. I thought I was imagining it, but I was talking with Debbie this morning and she said she felt the same way. I love fall and can't wait for it to be here. I have a lot to do before fall gets here, but I look forward to it.

Well, I'm off to go do some knitting while the rest of the family battles it out on the wii. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Farm Market Thursday!

Oh, how I love Thursdays now! It is farm market today down in the square. It takes the boys and I about 25 minutes to walk down there and then we are in heaven. They like it because I let them each get a piece of pizza and I like it because of the plethora of fruits, veggies and plants. Tim met us down there after his team meeting was done and we all walked around together. They had a special table set up this time with bugs. All different kinds of bugs, good and bad for the garden. I touched a hissing cockroach. They had all kinds of bugs that were in jars and it made me think of Lewru's bug blog she did. It was neat and the kids had a blast. We scored a whole bunch of goods today:

Of course we hit the Amish baked goods, and we got some corn, leeks, potatoes, dill, cherries, peaches and a ton of green and wax beans.

It's a gorgeous day out today too. All in all, we had 2 1/2 inches of rain yesterday. Right now it's 1:15 and only 68 degrees out. Have I mentioned that I love living in the north east? I do. I got out into the garden today to look around some more. I've declared this weekend a "weeding weekend". Tim has said he will help me out there. I did harvest a couple of things.

swiss chard and some wax beans and green beans

I am so excited with the amount of tomatoes that we have out there. Most of them are the size of my fist.

tomatoes galore

I have to laugh as I show you the next tomato plant. Brian, this one is for you. After seeing your tomato plant , I had to show you the tomato plant that Patchy dug up and that we thought was a goner.

I've named this Patchy because of his attempted murder.

Patchy's fruit.

I wish your little tomato plant luck and suggest that if you attempt to grow tomatoes next year, replant it sooner.

Finally, I am happy to say that it appears the cucumber plants are happy with their trellis. They have climbed up one side, tried to get into the pear tree and are starting down the other side.


Nancy cut up a couple of these babies last weekend for our book club meeting and they are so yummy. I'm not sure we'll get enough off of them to actually make pickles or not. We seem to be eating them as fast as we pick them.

My big canning pot that I ordered yesterday is due to be showing up at my house today. Color me excited. The other kit (the one with the tongs and funnel and all that fun stuff) is due to be here July 30th. I'm contemplating trying a batch of canning before that stuff gets here. That's why I got all the beans. I'm going to attempt to make some dilly beans. A friend of mine sent me the recipe a couple of years ago and now I need to go dig it up.

Time to put the zucchini bread in the oven and get some stuff done around the house. Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lazy day

It's raining all day today so I'm not even going to attempt to head out into the gardens. I checked the rain gauge earlier and we got an inch of rain between 4 and 5 o'clock this morning. I think I can hear our plants sighing a sigh of relief. Yay.

Connor and I both had a tomato for lunch from the garden. They are awesome. I don't know why people buy tomatoes at the store when they taste so much better right out of the garden. Yum. Today, being that it is nasty out, I'm reading a couple of canning books. I ordered a big canning pot and the starter canning kit and now I'm waiting for it to be delivered. I can't wait. I'm also doing some knitting. So, even though it's yucky outside, we're having a pretty good day. I'm chalking it up to a mental health day.

As I have nothing to show from the garden today I'll share a couple of my favorite pictures of my wee ones from vacation.

Aidan, the cannon balling wonder.

He believes he can fly.

Connor, who wore this mask in pretty much every picture I took of him.

They look cute, but looks can be deceiving.

I hope everyone has a great day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It seems I'm having problems with blogger right now. I can't upload any pictures and my "new post" screen that I'm posting in right now is all weird. I'm trying to figure it out in the middle of everything else I'm trying to do. Grrrr....

The garden is good. We picked half of our beets and when I get this problem figured out, I'll show them.



beets, glorious beets!

Today was beet picking day. The kids each wanted to pick some and we only picked half of them. They are all pretty good size and I'm hoping Nancy will share her pickled beets and eggs recipe with me. Hint, hint. Aidan wanted to pick carrots too, but they are not very big yet. I pulled one last night to see if they were ready. It was a tiny little carrot that tasted really good, but they need to be bigger.

Aidan getting dirty

Connor picking one of his all time favorite vegetables.

We picked two more tomatoes today. Tim had one for breakfast this morning and said they were really good. I haven't had one yet. I'll try and have one tomorrow. Last night I did get some heirloom tomatoes at the store and they were divine. It has us trying another experiment. We are going to try and save the seeds and try and grow them. I'll post more about that later.

There is a lot to be done in the gardens. Weeding mostly. I also want to try and plant some more beets and I guess look at doing some lettuce. It's been really hot here lately and not much fun to be outside. We are supposed to get rain tomorrow and then it's supposed to cool off. One can only hope. I think I have boredom brewing. This is the time of year when we are just waiting for the veggies to be done. There is no excitement of planting and watching things grow. All I'm watching grow right now are weeds. Not fun.

I'm slowly getting back into routine from being on vacation so hopefully I will feel like being more productive out there and start my winter planning. Maybe a good rainy day is what I need tomorrow. I'll stay in pj's and do some reading. Yup, sounds good to me.

Have a good night all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm back.

I would like to say that I'm all rested today, but I'm not. I am still trying to recover from traveling yesterday. I have a lot that I want to write about but I guess I need not do it all in one post today. I don't think I could handle that much thinking right now either.

I did wander out into our gardens today. Everything looks great! I'm starting to get worried about the amount of tomatoes that we have out there. I think Nancy and my family will have enough tomatoes to take us through to next year. While we were away Nancy picked a couple for us and she also snagged 4 very large zucchinis that I'm excited to do something with. I might make another couple of loaves of bread or do something more creative. I will have to figure it out in the next couple of days so they don't go bad. Tim also hauled in a bunch of our wax peppers. I don't know if I have enough to do pickled peppers or not. I should give Peter Piper a ring. It's funny as many times as we used to say that tongue twister, it never dawned on me that you can actually pickle peppers. I'm slow sometimes.

small harvest

I think we are going to pick beets sometime this week and pull a carrot and see if they are ready to come up. I'm sad though because it doesn't look like any of the seeds that I planted on our home made seed tape came up. I wonder if the seed didn't like being put in the flour paste glue. I will try it one more time and then figure something else out.

forest of beets and carrots

It also appears that we will be picking some kohlrabi pretty soon too. The bulbs have gotten nice and big. I still have a jar of pickles so I'm not sure what I'll do with any more of them right now.


These green peppers weren't even on the plants when we left for vacation. They popped out and grew in the matter of ten days. Crazy. You want to see something else crazy? This:

The mystery plant. I'm still really hoping these are cantaloupe plants. This particular batch of misplaced seeds (from compost) have taken over a corner of the flower garden. I'm going to have to watch it because if they are cantaloupe, I've read some hints about putting pantyhose around the baby melon to help it grow.

Tim's peppers are really getting big too and most of them have peppers on the plants. He's probably going to be making some hot sauces with them again this year. That is usually what he does. It stinks the house up something fierce, but he has so much fun doing it.

future hot sauce

While we were away, Nancy picked up something really neat. A potting bench. I had joked around how I was going to take the lower level of the kid's fort in the back yard and make into a gardening area. They can still climb up to the top and have their secret jedi meetings, but I was going to use the bottom for my gardening stuff. She found this potting bench at a yard sale. It's awesome! It will be used a lot I think!

I guess to end this for today I want to thank Nancy for keeping an eye on all our little plants out there and making sure they were watered when they were thirsty. Also, thanks for keeping my inside plants alive. Oh, and a big thank you for the big batch of pickled beets and eggs in our fridge when we got home! YUM! Thank you also to Debbie for picking up our newspapers and keeping an eye on the house to make sure all was ok.

new bench

Have a great day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I went to Florida and all I got was this....

Brand spanking new tattoo! Thank you Jessica. I love it. It hurt a little bit (mainly that top bee) but it was well worth the time spent getting it. It took five hours to do and I think we could have gotten it done in four if we hadn't been so chatty.

We just got home tonight and I am so tired. I will update everything tomorrow. I haven't even had a chance to walk through all of the gardens yet. Tim went and harvested a bunch of Hungarian wax peppers and we noticed the tomatoes are out of control. There are tons of them. It looks like I'll be picking beets this week too. The weeds seem to be wreaking havoc in one spot and I will need to get in there and clean it out.

So tired right now. Had a great vacation. Thanks mom and dad for everything. Going to go get jammies on now and go read until I fall asleep. I give myself about ten minutes. More tomorrow, I promise.