Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sewing, Mowing, Canning!


Today was our Civil War sewing meeting. On our way past the neighbors' house, we dropped off a quart of blackberry pie filling and a dozen eggs from our chickens. The eggs are getting a little dirty, as the hens have decided to forgo the roosts and sleep in the nests. So we've changed out the straw and locked up the nest boxes at night again. Looking forward to sparkly eggs tomorrow. :)

I have almost finished my replacement corset, but got stalled due to the bones I had ordered not fitting.

Gladly, we were able to use them for a dear friend of mine, Elaine. So I spent the whole morning being able to help others.

I must be getting better at sewing, because last week I pulled up some fabric, and spent an hour whipping up an extra corset for Elaine. I amazed myself. My first corset took 4 weeks and 4 people to help me. :-P

After the meeting I made a trip to the hardware store for bones. Yes, extra long and strong zip-ties, or tie-wraps.

I should be able to get those in, then put in the grommets for the lacing next week.

We came home and attempted to get mowing done but, once again, the storms have come and watered us out. The grass is a good 8 inches high and going to seed, so I want to be really careful where that seed goes when we are mowing next to crops and beds.

Yesterday we had managed to mow at least around the house and greenhouse, but had to rake up all the cut grass. Very time consuming.

By this evening we had two of these trailer loads of cut grass. Some went to the compost pile, but I think I will use a lot of it as mulch to cut down on weeding time in the herb and flower beds.

We've still got the crop areas to do and, frankly, it scares me.

Michael began yesterday morning by picking produce again. It's become a daily ritual the last week or so; Michael picks, and I work to do something with it in the kitchen.

So I began working on a blackberry pie filling recipe.

And, in trying to juggle freezer contents, put an old, frozen, half-price pot roast in the crock pot...

With a variety of found veggies, carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, and green beans from the garden, along with one of my favorite seasonings - mesquite.

We've been eating on this now for two days. :)

Here are the peppers from the morning. I would love to can some, but I don't quite have enough of them to justify running the canner, so I'm being more creative.

The summer squash, which has finally slowed down, went into the dehydrator again, and the cucumbers went into my first effort at canned pickle relish.

Michael also tried his hand at first time melon picking. Always an art form, we figure he might as well begin learning now how to pick them. He hit the jackpot with this first one, I believe it is a Prescott Fond Blanc.

Not so well with his first watermelon. He'll get better quickly.

My first inclination was to dice the veggies for the pickle relish. I soon tired of that; after about one cucumber, as a matter of fact.

So the 3 quarts of cucumbers, 3 onions, and 6 bell peppers went into the food processor, and then were to be soaked in 2 quarts of ice water and 3/4 cups of pickling salt for 4 hours.

When that 4 hours was up, I drained and resoaked them in plain ice water for an hour, drained them and then poured 6 cups of boiling apple cider vinegar with a mixture of 2 cups of sugar, 4 tsp celery seed, 4 tsp mustard seed, 2 tsp ground allspice, and 2 tsp turmeric over them. That whole mixture is in the fridge now, marinating and waiting for me to can it tomorrow morning.

It tastes like pickle relish, so it must be right.

Meanwhile, for a mid-morning snack we eliminated the jalapenos by stuffing them with cream cheese, diced jack cheese and powdered garlic and onion.

They were delicious. But we discovered that, though the smooth green ones are perfect, the older jalapenos, with the cracked skins are hotter than we appreciate.

Another picking, is an unripe spaghetti squash. The best way to learn is to make mistakes, so I know Michael is learning much more quickly by bringing his hard work up, and cutting into it. He's doing great! :)

Adding in freshly picked green beans to the stew...

And back to working on the blackberry pie filling. I got out all our frozen blackberries and there were not quite enough, so I filled in the rest of the berry need with raspberries and blueberries from the freezer as well.

This was my first use of Clear Jell. I got this at the Mennonite market for a good price.

And while I mixed that with sugar and spices...

I went to wave to Michael and see how he was doing.

Stirring the water into the Clear Jell mixture and bringing it to a low boil to thicken it.

And here is the pickle relish, ready to marinate for 36 hours in the fridge. I did not have any red peppers, so it looks a little bland, but the flavor is great.

Putting by a large garden's worth of produce is new to me. I am looking forward to when I can do these things without having to think so hard about them and am much quicker.

By this time it was nearly dark, Michael came in for shower and we enjoyed stew together as we relaxed.

I'll let you know how the relish turns out tomorrow!




  1. What a hard working boy Michael is! You must be very proud of him!

  2. Cyn,

    He really is, and you are right, I am very proud of him. :)

    He has to do so much around here, without a dad and just the two of us, so I work hard to make sure he has a lot of good quiet time, play time and fellowship time with friends.

    He plays several musical instruments, and he often takes breaks and practices in the music room. We get together with friends several times a week. They are great kids, solidly grounded in the Lord, love their families, and love each other. They are like brothers and sisters to Michael. We all get together and play music once a week as well.

    Each evening we really love to settle in and just spend quiet time together, relaxing and enjoying the fruits of our labors. Winter is always nice, because dark comes a little earlier, so resting and quiet times are longer. By spring you are ready to go again!


  3. Looks like you're keeping busy! Nice job on all your produce -- looks yummy. Question -- where do you get your blackberries? Is there anywhere around here where you can pick your own? Thanks!

  4. Beth,

    We grow our own blackberries here at home. We have a 90 foot row of Doyle Thornless. They produce large, sweet berries.

    I don't currently know of anywhere that does, but I'll check around for you. :)


  5. Oh my gosh I am so proud of you. Have you put a $ amount to the produce you have taken out of the garden? It would be interesting; the peppers look so wonderful!!! I feel your pain about having to rake. I have done it and now because of the latest events, my field is high again. So is my back yard. I will be raking. I would love to hear how your mulching goes with grass. My dad swears that the grass you use as much will grow weeds. If it doesn't I will have a new thing to try! (of course I will let you try it first...that is what friends are for isn't it??) lol

  6. Tracy,

    No, I haven't, but I have thought about it. If I had to guess, we would be at the thousand mark by now. I only wish it were more of what I would normally buy.

    Plus, I'm having to buy all the canning stuff. So I have not saved money yet - however, long term, we will. Once all my jars and supplies are bought, and once I get the planning down, figure out planting and harvesting schedules, have my greenhouse, cold frames, and shade gardens done, and maybe a fruit orchard in, I will.

    Then I just really need a cow. We'd eat 80 dollars a week in dairy products, not to mention butchering a steer once a year... that would be great!

    Yeah, your dad is likely right. I was checking for grass seed as we were picking it all up. I'm thinking of laying it down to smother weeds, and then taking it back up again.... carefully....

    Everything is just out of control. I love the rain we've been getting, it's not been this green in a long time, but it has been happening at the most inopportune times and we are way behind in our work.


  7. I have ALWAYS wanted to have a corset. And to be in a CIVIL WAR enactment, or even to see one, in period costume! Oh, take a photo or two so I can see, PLEASE!!!


  8. What an interesting post. :) My goodness have you been busy too! I like your idea of stuffing the jalapenos. I've been trying to figure out what to do with all the ones we are beginning to end up with. We are only growing one and it is in a container on our deck but it is quite happy there and is pumping out peppers as I speak!


I always enjoy hearing from others. If you become a regular commenter, I'll assume you are being friendly and pretty much comment regularly right back. :o) God bless and have a terrific day!