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Friday, August 19, 2016

Fall is slowly sneaking up on us

Fall is actually sneaking up faster than I would like. But dang I guess it is past the middle of August already and not long till cooler nights and days. I guess I really didnt pay much attention to the calendar till I noticed the spent sweet corn stalks turning yellow last week. Geez, we just planted that stuff other day. At least it sure seems that way. The damn crows finally finished off the remainder of the sweet corn that was not even ready to harvest. Those things are the most aggressive feeders I think I have ever known. If you shoot to scare them off, in just a few minutes they are back in larger numbers. And it sure dont take long for them to destroy a patch of corn. Not to mention they have eat on some of the tomatoes, peppers and pecked at some of the unripe pumpkins. Mean lil devils they are.

Our peppers are in full productions right now, with lots that are getting red and ripe. We use a lot of bell peppers during the year in cooking. I only planted a few jalapenos this year as I am the only one that eats them and sure dont need that many taking up freezer space. My big freezer is mostly full now with the carrots, corn, okra, peppers among other things I cant think of right now. The tomatoes in the garden are starting to slack off producing now and some of the plants are spent. The Money Maker variety I planted have produced tons of small tomatoes that are mostly used for juice but are small enough to be a total pain in the arse to wash and get the seeds out of to juice. I take the seed pockets out to reduce the amount of water or clear liquid that comes to the top on the jars of juice. It actually makes better tasting thicker juice. Also when I peel tomatoes to make my salsa I peel and squeeze out the seed pockets and it makes the salsa nice and thick. Yummy!!

The mustard and turnips I sowed a couple weeks ago are up. Oh my, and did I forever get them thick enough on the ground. I didnt use the seeder I just sprinkled the seeds on by hand cause it was a small space. The poor little seeds just laid there on top of the soil for well over a week till we got some nice rain showers. And they ALL came up. So soon or later I will have enough mustard and turnip greens to can. And I do love a nice sweet raw turnip in late fall after they have grown in cooler fall weather.

Tomorrow will be a grape harvesting day here. About 90% of the grapes on each cluster are ripe so its time to cut them and make jelly, juice and wine. If allowed to all ripen they will start to fall off the vine. Then its on to the peaches. I have a few left that the crows didnt get after I put aluminum pans in the branches to keep them scared off. Lots to do here as fall fast approaches.

I got a comment and question from an older blog post on gumbo. The sweet reader ask if it was possible to half the recipe to can. I would think certainly you could half or double or what ever suits the needs of your family or canner size. If I make the mess to make a batch of gumbo I just go whole hog and make a lot. Takes no longer to clean up from a huge batch as it does a small one. Good luck and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Another day, a few more jars..........

It has been a busy day because for some reason I felt like I was behind canning. Our tomatoes are getting ripe but not a large amount at one time. So I make juice a few quarts at a time. I have a good amount of larger tomatoes that I am letting get a little riper to use for salsa. My Rob likes the homemade salsa so I guess I have to make some for him when I have extra tomatoes. The smaller tomatoes get turned into juice.

 We are getting several cucumbers now and make pickles every other evening. The okra has just went wild. I am freezing about a gallon of sliced okra every other evening as well. I use a lot of okra when I make and can gumbo and it never fails if I use store bought okra no matter the brand it always has a lot of tough fibrous pieces in it. That makes for a nasty texture when you take a big bite. Yuck, so I know if I grow it and cut it and freeze it that it wont be tough. Problem solved. Just another one of those things you can always do better yourself than depend on the store for.
After getting all the carrots pulled out of our small bed in the back yard Rodger got it all tilled up this evening and I got my mustard and turnip seeds sown. I am hoping I can get a good amount of greens to can this year. My canned greens are getting pretty low. I am the only one here that eats them but dang it when I want em, I want em. And that is another thing I dont like to buy. The store bought ones are usually chopped and have a lot of large stems chopped up in the mix and I take the stems mostly out of mine when  I can them. And I only rough chop or tear into bite size pieces not really fine.

We got our sweet corn taken care of a week or so ago and damn, the crows for sure got more than we did. I had a second planting that would have been ready probably by the end of this week. As my luck would have it, the crows feel too threatened but nothing stops the damn squirrels. They have pretty well obliterated the patch before it was even in the blister stage. So next project is the cut down the stalks and plant cover crop on the ground. That will likely be purple hull peas. I might even get some peas off the plants before frost. They will be inside the fence so the deer and turkeys cant get at them. Heaven help a turkey if it gets in the fence and cant get out. It for sure has been a battle of the wills to save things from the critters this year. We are plotting now how to deter them next year and just our luck it will be a different pest next season. I already know I am planting less cabbage and when they are planted they will be covered completely with some kind of cheese cloth material to keep the worms off. Damn those things destroyed all my cabbage this year. No kraut for me. Always something new to keep a gardener on their toes I guess. But am thankful we are able to restock our cellar this season so really should not complain at all.

I was in the summer kitchen today which is near the hen house and heard the hens raising a fuss cackling. I went out to see what was their issue. And lo and behold I got my first eggs, all 2 of em, from my 4 month old Buff Orphington pullets today. I was very pleased. So they should be laying full swing in another couple weeks or so. Needless to say this chicken momma is a happy camper.

I guess maybe these hens will at least earn their feed. Unlike the last ones I had that were really a dead expense.

I did a practice run last week on something I had wondered about for a while. I like fried green tomatoes but really dont care for the texture of them canned then fried. So I had a few that were green with just a blush of starting to turn color. I brought them in, and with a sharp knife peeled the skin off and dredged them while they were still damp in a mix of corn meal with about half the amount of flour added, a good dash of salt and pepper. Rolled the tomatoes in that mixture and put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and froze them.  I think I left them in the freezer for a couple days. I took em out and fried them up. Oh my, they were perfect. Just the same as if done straight from the garden. So now I gots to get me busy or in my spare time (hahaha) slice more and coat them and get them frozen. Then I can bag em up to enjoy when the snow flys this winter and I can only dream of a fresh fried green mater. So if you like fried green tomatoes this method works like a charm. When I coated them in the corn meal mixture I did press it on each slice really well so they had a good coat on the outside before freezing. I guess we can say this ole gal learned a new trick.

Every year I try to grow something I have never tried before. This year I was blessed to get some plum granny seeds from Rita, a friend I went to school with. They are loaded with lil plum grannies. I picked 3 ripe ones this afternoon and brought them in the house. You can smell them all over in here. They are an interesting "thing" to learn about. They are also called pocket melons. In victorian times when a bath was a real luxury ladies would carry the pocket melons in their reticule (purse) or in their pocket to mask body odor. I have also heard or read that if they are cut and let around inside the house they will deter spiders and other unwelcome flying annoyances. The jury is still out on that one here. But in all fairness I did just bring them in this afternoon so maybe we give em time.

Certainly pretty to look at, but to my knowledge most people dont eat them. They are more for fragrance and looks and if you choose, to cover body odor. But in my humble opinion soap and water is a much better alternative. As for the insect repelling properties, I will let ya know.

So now its the end of a long day and appears tomorrow wont be any shorter. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.