Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sweet dreams, Liberty Garden


I have not been a good steward of the garden. More was wasted than I harvested.

But - at least I planted it. Thanks so much to Angie for her encouragement - I never would have done it without you, Angie!


And I had fun with the time I did spend with it. Radishes, arugula, carrots, swiss chard, and tomatoes. Chives, basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary.

The spinach flowered before I got around to harvesting it. The bell peppers (there were only two) got nibbled on by some insect before they were ripe enough to pick. The butternut squash never sprouted, and by the time I realized that, I couldn't find seedlings to buy.

I may not have saved money, if I figure in the cost of the fencing to keep the rabbits out (very effective). But it was a small investment.

I grew local food. Not a lot of it, but some.

November 20th - a few hardy Swiss chard leaves are hanging on.

Thursday the forecast was for 18F overnight temperatures (it got down to 16), and I knew there were still carrots waiting to be dug up.

The last of the carrots, November 20th.
Not beautiful, but I'm sure they'll make great stew and soup.

And in another few weeks, when the ground is hard frozen,
I'll dump mulched leaves on the bed, to sleep away the winter.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cold Wash

22.8F, the temperature this morning when I hung the laundry.

In April, I switched from using our gas dryer to hanging clothes outside on a line. Most of the time, it's been enjoyable - working outside, surrounded by whatever is in bloom, knowing I'm saving money and energy.


And the more I've done it, the easier it gets, as I figure out little ways to make it easier. Like, keep the clothespins in the pockets of a spare apron; wear the apron when hanging or removing clothes from the line; use an adjustable-height pole (a gift from my very kind neighbor who noticed my dilemma) to prop up the line to keep the clothes off the grass ; wash clothes when there is enough for a load, rather than waiting a week and washing multiple loads on the same day, so there is enough room on the line.

April, BC
Before my neighbor's gift of a Clothesline-prop)

But I've been wondering whether I will be willing to continue once the weather turns cold.

So - I've had a few opportunities to try it out.

What I've learned:
  • When removing the clothes from the washer, either hang on a hanger or put clothespins on each item before placing in the laundry basket to take outside. It minimizes the time spent outside with fingers freezing.
  • Whatever can be hung on a hanger, do so; it saves space on the line - and it's quicker to hang up once outside. If it might slide off the hanger (V-necked pullovers), secure it with a clothespin.
  • If it's snowing a little, and it's a dry snow, that's OK. It doesn't seem to stick to the clothes.
  • If the clothes aren't dry by dusk, and a dry night and day are in the forecast, leave them on the line until the next day.
  • It's better not to hang clothes in the shadow of the garage, as they don't dry very well (this wasn't much of a problem in the warm weather).
  • And, the one I learned today (temperature: 22 F): find those old glove liners from downhill skiing days, and wear them while hanging and unpegging the laundry. Keep them clipped to the clothespin apron so they are always in reach.
It's hard to see, but these are silver-sparkly.
And reduce frozen fingers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Say "AH-pull-moose." That's Dutch for applesauce.

Ida Reds

G loves applesauce. Every September since we've been married, I've made applesauce from Cortland apples from an orchard near my parents' summer cottage. Because we weren't going to be in the area at the right time this year, I tried an Illinois orchard. The first trip, in October, I bought the last bushel of Cortlands they had. The owner warned me that it was the end of the season for that variety and they were probably best pressed into cider, but I really wanted Cortlands, because, not only do they have great flavor, but they also make a beautiful pink sauce. I should have listened - the sauce is good, but the bright color isn't there. Note for next year - visit the orchard in mid-September.

On the road to the orchard.

Last year for the first time I canned the applesauce - in previous years I had frozen it. But I knew last year I wouldn't have enough freezer space, so I found out the process needed to can it, and put out a request on our local Freecycle for quart canning jars.

Apple boxes stacked near the barn.

Last weekend I bought another bushel of apples, this time Ida Red. Excellent flavor, but still not the pretty pink of the Cortland sauce. But I'm not complaining. I think I'll go back today, the last day of the season, and get one more bushel of autumn deliciousness.

Wash apples.

Remove stem and flower end; cut into chunks, and
place in heavy saucepan with a tablespoon or two of water.
Cover and cook over low heat.

When the apples are soft, spoon them into a food mill.
(or into a borrowed 1930's Kitchen Aid with food mill attachment.)

Puree the apples through the mill.

Put a container under the mill to catch the sauce
before you turn on the machine.

Don't ask me how I know this.

Transfer the applesauce to a slow cooker to keep at 212F before filling canning jars.

Process in boiling water bath (also borrowed.)


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Over Dominoes

Me (noticing a hole in G's sweatshirt): Oh, look. I'll have to darn that.

Burst of laughter.

G: You always make me laugh.

I didn't say when.