Sunday, July 27, 2008

the beach


Sorry for the silence - after the cherries we went to the beach for 4 days, followed by a visit from Andy's family, followed by a visit (still in progress) from a childhood friend of Andy's. They are taking off to New York tomorrow morning for a baseball game. Though neither are Yankee fans they want to see a game the last season on Yankee Stadium and so are having a guy-weekend together.


The beach was a lovely spur of the moment vacation. Things had been so busy and we kept saying "when [thus and such] is over it will be much calmer" but then a new thing would appear and it would be busy-ness all over again. So we cleared some days and took of for Cape Cod. The weather was perfect - clear blue skies, low humidity and the beach on the oceanside had a great sandbar which let us walk out pretty far and calmed the waves alot.


We also found message in a bottle if you can believe it! Andy and Miryam were playing in the water, looked down and there it was. It contained a note saying that it had been thrown in from a Rode Island beach about 4 days before, with a phone number and 3 dollars. It turned out to be from a fisherman who told us to "take the money and go on a vacation"!


It was a much needed break and afterwards we came home rejuvinated and ready to receive our guests in a less harried fashion.

Monday, July 14, 2008

cherries


oy!

So there we were, innocently strolling through the farmer's market when we can upon a stand with cherries. "oh" we though to ourselves "we love cherries". We were alerted by the farmers that this was the only week they would offer cherries...

Apparently we loved cherries enough that we bought a whole box for about 70 percent less than if we bought the same amount in pint/quart form. That being said, we bought a box of cherries. It looks even bigger in real life. I'd say two cubic feet or so.

Did I mention that I don't have a cherry pitter? Did i mention that due to circumstances beyond my control I would be the only one processing this box of cherries? Let's not talk about it anymore - it was quite a 12 hours let me say....

To anyone reading this who loves me, please feel free to send me a cherry pitter for my birthday.

In the end we do have two jars of cherries in brandy (yum) and two gallons of halved and pitted cherries in the freezer. I'm half seriously considering making a fruit cake this holiday season. I was thinking of making it very traditional and very local and very alcoholic. I think it might be yummy if I avoid green cherries (what is that all about anyway?)

Hopefully the chest freezer will make an appearance this week and I can once again have ice cubes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Peas


I'm enamoured with pantries and root cellars. I would love to be able to put up enough food to last us through winter or, at least, to make up a big portion of our winter fare. Things feel very fragile in the world now and since I have had children I feel such a strong need to be able to provide for them and protect them in the most basic of ways - making sure that (whatever happens) we have a home and food to eat. We envision someday having a smallholding like Rebecca and Dan from Sallygardens, get the mortgage paid off and be as sustainable as possible. I don't need to live off the grid, but I would like plans in place in case of calamity - a stocked pantry and a wood stove with a supply of wood included.

Because we aren't quite there yet I am using this time to practice and learn new skills. My friend Laura came out from Boston this past week so we could do some "putting up". I have canned before (apple sauce and tomatoes) but both of those only need a big pot of boiling water. We had planned on caning peas and that required a pressure canner. For some reason that seemed intimidating (and possibly dangerous?) but it was no trouble at all once we deciphered the instructions written in teeny tiny type.

We both have CSA shares at different farms out here. Laura's also has a delivery out in Summerville where she lives but she comes back west where her family lives to do some pick-your-own throughout the season. Both farms had peas in season so we went to her farm with the little ones and picked several quarts of shelling peas. √Čamonn slept in the Mei tai on my chest and Miryam, who was not in a picking mood, mostly fed pea pods to the goats and their two new kids.


The next morning we rode over to my farm to pick my share of shelling peas and then home again to shell and can. Boy do I wish we had some goats to feed the pods too - I'm sure they'll make nice compost but it seemed such a shame to through them all in the bin - so beautifully green and crunchy. We shelled and shelled and shelled and were able to put up 8 pints of peas which felt good for our first go at it. Laura's farm allows you to pick more then your share if you pay extra by the quart, so I think next year we'll go out a bit earlier in the pea season and pick more. When were were there the peas were almost done. This year we'll get a better idea of how quickly we go through thinks like jam and peas so next year we make a more educated guess of how much we need.

To be honest, I don't really like canned peas, though Miryam and Andy love them. We did the raw pack method which hopefully will keep them from that over-cooked-mooshy-awfulness that I associate with canned peas.

√Čamonn, Miryam and a Big Bowl of Peas

Also, on the "putting up" front, we are purchasing a chest freezer to share with our friends who live a short walk from us. It will live in their basement and we'll each have an inventory of what belongs to us. I had great visions of freezing a bunch of berries for the winter but didn't even think about how teeny my freezer is. At this point we had to sacrifice ice cubes for the third gallon of strawberries - a worthwhile trade but I could really use and ice tea if you know what I mean...