I previously posted a link to an article which talked about how the Obama’s hopes to grow an organic garden were dashed because of a bio-solid fertilizer which was spread on the white house lawn with the okay from the Clinton’s. Any who, here’s a little more buzz…
Today was a hot and sticky ones weather fans, and inside my kitchen it was even hotter…but you know what they say about can’t standing the heat…
I took on the monumental task of canning more than I have ever canned before in a single day and came out on the other end victorious and delirious, there’s pictures. On the list today was to pickle cucumbers, okra, beets and green beans and to can up more tomatoes. I had some help in the kitchen today, Tonia, who was an eager canning student, no pictures of Tonia, but she knows she was there! Tonia, I know I told you, but you were a great help in the prep department and the sit back and watch department.
Boiled the tomatoes first thing and let them air cool, because there were other things ahead of them to be canned.
Also, sliced up the cucumbers and mixed them with salt to sweat out their moisture, set them aside. This whole time Tonia was chopping the onions, garlic and bell peppers (or capsicomes as they’re called in her native Australia).
After they sweat for an hour, you rinse them off and pack them into hot, sterile jars, this time I made dill pickles!
So this is what Tonia so graciously helped with. Dill pickles on the left, pickled beets in the back and tomatoes on the right. She had to go and I told her I was probably going to stop because I was canned out, that I would leave the okra and the beans for another day. I just couldn’t do that though. It was so hot, that I didn’t want to have to do this again another day, I soldiered on.
The beets were fun to make. The whole time we all marveled on how beautiful they were.
Four quarts of tomatoes and one of tomato juice.
Can’t wait to eat these. You have to let them sit for two weeks minimum, for the flavor to develop and they just get better with age.
The pickled okra. I’m also curious about these.
This is where the hot delirium took over, while the pickled green beans were processing in the canner. Also, I was alone, with my camera, which always brings the magic and I hope you enjoy these very personal delirious moments I’m about to share. You’re welcome.
When you’re hot, sweaty, listening to rap music, canned like a motherf#%@er, you can’t help but feeling a little gangster yourself.
Oh yeah, I put them both on here. Too much bad ass to keep to myself. Go ahead, tell me I’m the woman, because dammit I felt like it. I still feel like it and hour later. And obviously the green beans were done, because there they are.
I was feeling all sorts of emotions. I bet I sweated out three pounds of water weight today.
Just to reiterate, I was alone.
Did I mention, because I’ll say it again….I was alone, and this is what happens with people and their cameras when they are alone. It’s GOLD. No, no, it’s PLATINUM!
The last shot of the take, which is done and so am I. I love you all. Peace.
When I canned the pickles, it was raining. It rained and rained and rained. When it was all said and done, there was 2″ in the rain gauge. Immediately I went outside and picked our tomatoes because Paul had just watered them in heavily that morning and after receiving the 2″, they had all split open. So, out came the canner again, with Paul taking pictures for the blog, to give you a little hint about the process. So here we go.
What I’m doing here, and looking ever so pleased about, is dropping the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water until the skins split. You fish them out and put them into a bowl of ice water to cool them down and peel the skins off of the tomatoes. All the while, the canning pot (The big gray pot to my right) is heating up to a boil.
I put Paul on prep duty and constantly had to keep him in check. He was so adamant about documenting this, while everything else was going on. Unfortunately, nothing waits for Paul to take pictures and as I’m standing in front of boiling pots, I got a little snappy. When we’re in the kitchen, I’m in charge. I will also mention here that everything that is going into our cans is totally “in-house”. We grew the tomatoes, the bell peppers, the garlic and the onions.
After the tomatoes are peeled, you cut them into chunks and put them into a pot.
This is more of Paul not doing his job…GET TO WORK!
There is no picture of it, but all of the peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes were heated up in a large stock pot, until it boiled. You have to heat up your jars as well and pour the hot tomato mix into the hot jar, which goes into the boiling hot canner. This is me pouring the mix into the jars.
Rule of thumb here that was taught to me, it makes sense, there are so many types of hybrid tomatoes out there, that their acidity is compromised…these aren’t great-grandma’s tomatoes. So, to doubly make sure that everything is on the up and up, it’s wise to add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to each quart before sealing it.
More pouring action.
Jars going in.
20 or so minutes later, after processing the jars in your canner, you get to take pictures like this. Canning was taught to me by Paul’s mom, Diane Daniel. It was right after Oliver was born. She bought the canner, the tools, the jars, and 40 pounds of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and said “Let me show you something”. Diane, even though Oliver was four days old and I thought you were totally crazy (in a “I just had a baby” you want me to what? sort of way), I think this is the most valuable skill for any person to know and I thank you for showing me. Now I’m the crazy, calling up my friends saying “Come over! Let me show you something!”.
I made pickles on Tuesday for the first time in my life. It went okay, I was satisfied. There were a few things that could have gone better such as, the recipe I used said to pack the cucumbers into quart jars, so I did. After they were processed, the cucumbers rose to the top, where they remain today. Lesson learned, maybe do them in pint jars next time. Also, I wanted more of a dill pickle, not realizing that all recipes are created equal. So, they are sweet pickles. What can you do.
I still enjoyed the learning experience…so did Ike, I think.
Last weekend was our first farm stand. I’ve mentioned it to some, but for those of you who don’t know, we are selling our produce this year at our house. It was successful, unfortunately there aren’t a lot of pictures, but I didn’t have the camera, I was too busy enjoying the shade and the breeze.
Oliver was a tremendous help all day. He was so into manning the stand and being the “money man”. He was also helpful in letting people know to check their corn for worms. He works cheap, all it took was an ice cream cone.
Our beautiful sign.
Post farm stand fun, Batchie put them to work shucking corn for dinner.
Friends, here is an excerpt from the book In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (which you should read after you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by the same author).
“There’s no escaping the fact that better food–whether measured by taste or nutritional quality (which often correspond)–cost more, usually because it has been grown with more care and less intensively. Not everyone can afford to eat high-quality food in America, and that is shameful; however, those of us who can, should. Doing so not only benefits your health (by, among other things, reducing your exposure to pesticides and pharmaceuticals), but also the health of the people who grow the food as well as the people who live downstream or downwind of the farms where it is grown.”
A family just visited our farm stand, I want to say that they were the first customers thus far. We said our greetings to one another and the matriarch starts to check out the table of goods. Just to let you know too, this woman was about in her mid 50’s and the other people that were with her were grown as well, no little kids. She points at the basket of potatoes, which weigh just over a pound and says, “TWO Dollars for THAT? (Looks at her husband, whispers) That’s high.” I said nothing, even though we were one foot away from each other. Then she says, “Isn’t there an organic stand around here anywhere?” I say, “Yeah, that’s us, you’re here.” She somewhat hides a sigh and says, “Well, do you have any tomatoes?” I go on to tell her why we don’t.
1.) It’s been an absolutely terrible year for tomatoes. It’s not just us having the problem, it’s everybody.
2.) It rained a few days ago, two inches, which caused all of our ripe tomatoes to split open, so I canned them.
I’m sure there was a third reason, but…
They left with buying nothing, which is fine because they are not the type of people who deserve to have fresh carrots or sweet corn grown twenty-five feet from where they were standing. They were the type of people who enjoy cheap, 1/2 rotted produce of the big box store variety. Laced with chemicals, grown in unhealthy soil. Sure it might only be $1.25 for fifty pounds of south of the border potatoes, but that’s not what it’s about is it.
People who do the types of endeavors going on here don’t make any money. I can’t just give it away either. What is nice about what we have going on, is that whatever doesn’t sell, I’ll preserve and put up for later.
Please understand that produce grown in healthy, organic rich soil are more nutrient dense and therefor better for you. It’s more bang for your buck. Produce grown on large farms, in sub-standard soil are exactly that, sub-standard. Even on large-scale organic farms. So do what you can to support your local farmer.
Did a little blueberry picking today. Aaaahhhhhhh….the weather is back up, but that was okay. We are garden sitting for the garden king, Dr. Calvin Bey. He invited us to come and pick anything that was ripe while he was out of town, so being the free things loving people that we are, totally all about it. I took my boys over there this early evening and kept them busy with some trucks while I attacked the blueberry bush. I don’t know what I was thinking only bringing a quart container. There were so many that were ripe, that weren’t ripe 5 days ago, I couldn’t believe it. I quickly filled my container and cursed the luck. Every time I pick blueberries, it’s like a fever pace. Like they are going to self-destruct as soon as I walk away, and perhaps they do. To have blueberries so late in the season is a blessing and I’ll take them. Thank you Calvin for the blueberries. We will put them to good use. I’d also like to remind you about the farm stand again tomorrow, come one, come all.
This article just hammers the point about knowing where your food comes from, “Shake the hand that feeds you”. The ultimate food “security” is growing your vegetables in your backyard. You may not know, but it takes very little space to grow enough vegetables to eat for your families. If you’re not ambitious, may I suggest buying your produce at your local farmer’s market, or a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm. It is up to each and every one of us to take control of our food. We’re a spoiled culture, convenience is king and I completely understand why. However we posses the power to change this. Why trust a corporation, food science, for all that we eat? Please, get your hands dirty. You’ll be doing yourself a HUGE favor.
The baby hen did not die at the hands of the raccoon last night. It was resourceful and hid well. All is well in the hen house for now.