Featured

Welcome to The Clampetts!

Introduction

First blog postKarlaRetirementParty

Hi All!

Here it is fresh off the press, my very first blog.

Let me tell you a little bit about us.  Our name is not really Clampetts but we sort of resemble the Clampetts prior to them striking oil!

My name is Karla and my husband of 13 years’ name is Brian.  We live on at the end of a narrow, dirt road, in a small village, in a small county in the small state of New Hampshire.  I am just recently retired; hence the picture above with the huge corsage!

This blog will be about living off the grid completely and our trials and tribulations of every day living once retired and living in a small, rural area.  It ain’t always easy!  For example, the time I made a custard and the oven kept blinking at me and B was away on a business trip.  Why was the oven blinking?  Would the custard cook?  Well, of course the oven was blinking, it wasn’t getting enough power!  I did not have the appropriate inverter on!  We have 2 inverters that converts DC (battery) current to AC (house) current.  I obviously had a lot to learn. . .

One of the newest additions to our off the grid living and something that makes me very happy, and we hope will make life a little easier, is a propane generator and a new 500 gallon propane tank.  Now the generator comes on automatically when our power begins to lessen.  Since this is a new installation (and not a cheap one either I might add), it still needs tweaking; that would be B’s job.  So far it is working well.  Previously, we used a gasoline fed generator, and required some manual tweaking that was always difficult for me.  I am not mechanically inclined and the generator required a lot of pulling and usually accompanied by some cussing to even start it.  I am not good at jumping up and down while pulling the cord as well as B is!

We live a pretty ordinary life and if you were to visit, you would not necessarily even realize we are off the grid.  However, we do have a few quirky things by today’s standards.  We have a special small refrigerator that requires manual defrosting (yuck) and is deep but short, causing the food that gets pushed way back to freeze.  Have you ever tried reviving frozen celery?  It doesn’t work well.  And our gas powered oven also requires manual cleaning (double yuck, as I cook a lot).  However, my husband has every power tool known to man and uses them frequently.  We have a regular washing machine, but I prefer to hang my clothes out to dry during the summer months, and I use wooden clothes racks in the winter set up near the wood stove to dry most of our clothes.  Why not use the sun and the wood stove to dry one’s clothes???  We do own a dryer but it is at my in-law’s who live a mile from us and live on the grid.

I am also very interested in homesteading, for lack of a better word.  I believe in eating local, either growing my own food or buying local food and meat.  We have raised pigs in the past as well as ducks, chickens, and, if lucky,  B brings home venison – in season,  of course!  I am fortunate to live in an area where I can easily buy any of these items, should I run low on my own food.  By the way, we do have 2 freezers living off the grid.  See?  You would never know we do so.

I hope you like my new blog!  Please feel free to make any comments you care to make.  Well, only positive comments of course!  Ha, ha.

Karla

Welcome to Autumn 2021- September 22, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Here we are, into autumn yet again.  The weather for Wednesday, Thursday, and sadly, Friday, appears to be the same; dark and dreary.  The humidity is up, always a bonus, not, and no sun.  But no frost either, so I suppose that is a good thing.  And what about that turkey???  Read on.

Hello Folks,

This morning I went grocery shopping.  I was at Market Basket by 7:00 a.m. and it was a quiet shopping morning with only one checkout open.  Have the rest of you noticed how short of help stores are???  I suspect the one checkout lane was due to being short staffed, as the store has been advertising for help. 

Anyway, my list was short, so I was only in the store for about 45 minutes.  I continue to notice the rise in grocery prices, though.  Last week the lemonade B likes, which has been 2/$5 all summer, was now $2.69 each.  I can remember the day not that long ago when that brand would go on sale for 2/$4 for most of the summer.  Then I noticed Bisquick has gone up to over $4 a box.  Luckily, I don’t use a lot of it, and I have a box in reserve.  And so it goes, on and on.

From there I proceeded to the gas station, where our gasoline has remained steady all summer at $3.04, but with the store card, we are paying $2.94.  I always check gasoline prices, but B says when you need gasoline, you need gasoline.  Period.  So no price checking for him.

And, finally, I went to Hannaford grocery store for a few more items before driving home.  Grocery shopping mornings are always rough on me, as the critters are not at all happy with waiting both for their morning treat and no clean water.  Plus, I am still wiping down all the groceries and then having to put everything away.  No easy task.

It never ceases to amaze me that, particularly ducks and geese, and to a certain extent, chickens, recognize clean water.  Ducks only muddy the water anyway, so what the heck do they care???  But they do, and most mornings they watch me as I scrub and refill the containers.  For whatever reason now that the heat has died down, both Lucy and the ducks take a bath as soon as I provide clean water!  Why late in the season and not at the height of the summer heat, I cannot fathom.  However, this morning, because I was late and it interfered with their morning siesta, they skipped bathing.

By the way, there appears to be NOTHING wrong with Miss Green Ears after all!  She is back to jumping up to the sleeping bar at night and, although her comb isn’t very bright and her tail is a bit droopy, she certainly acts normal for her.  She has always been a bit daft, but other than that, normal.  I am wondering if the molt hasn’t started a little earlier this year and she is always the first to molt.  But for now, she is fine, although certainly not laying any eggs, either.

I am happy to report that I am about done with the turkey I roasted on Monday.  I always gripe about all the work that roasting a turkey involves and it is true.  However, I am adopting a different attitude.  We get a lot of meals out of a turkey and in many ways, I’d rather deal with a turkey than roasting a small hen. Roasting a chicken involves as much work, but the volume of the result is much less. 

What I mean by this is that if you go to the work of cooking the carcass for stock (that includes bones, veggies, and some seasoning), which I do, I might as well make a lot of it.  Yesterday I put the carcass in my big stock pot and let her cook away.  Today, I bagged up the stock and I got 6 bags of 2 cups of stock each.  I also saved out another almost 2 cups to use tonight to make the turkey pie. 

B was a big help.  Monday night, after our TV time, he cut all the meat off the huge turkey and I bagged it up while he was carving.  I did have to watch B carefully as he has this tendency to cut off so much meat from the carcass that there isn’t much left for the stock!  We produced 10 bags of meat.  Then B took the bagged meat to one of the remote freezers while I cleaned up.  I got to bed at 11:30 that night.

Today, after I finished bagging up the stock, B again took it to a remote freezer on his way to visit Doctor John.  Timing is everything around here. 

Yesterday, I also made gravy from the turkey juices.  What a beautiful rich, brown gravy I made!  That is my last turkey duty.  I need to bag up the gravy for future use and I will be done. 

I have never tried roasting a turkey in the summer, due to our limited refrigeration, but with the help of a cooler chest and ice, we managed quite nicely, and it can be done.  So, I learned something new and no more turkey until November.  Whew!

Here is a picture of the turkey for your viewing.  This was after I removed the stuffing from it.  I am very careful about removing stuffing immediately after I remove the turkey from the oven.  I think stuffing a chicken and/or turkey helps add flavor.  It isn’t that we are such huge stuffing fans, but the flavor is worth it.

So, that covers the last couple of days here in Clampettville.

Stay well.

A Fair, a Circus and More Tomatoes – September 20, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Another beautiful, typical September day.  Blue, cloudless sky, sunshine, and a gentle breeze.  Just perfect weather for roasting a turkey.  Read on.

Hello Folks,

Our weekend slipped away very quickly.  Friday was the perfect day to go to a fair, so we did.  We drove up to Tunbridge, Vermont to the “World’s Fair” of Tunbridge.  Now, when we were kids, just the mention of this fair was hush-hush.  The poor Tunbridge Fair was the drinking man’s fair or “drunkard’s reunion”.  The past couple of fair presidents have worked tirelessly to clean up the fair’s image, and they have succeeded.  Sure, there is a drinking area and an “entertainment” tent, but otherwise the fair is clean.  Here in New England, nearly all fairs are dry, meaning they do not sell, promote, or allow alcohol.  And, even though B and I grew up 40 miles apart, both of us knew the reputation Tunbridge Fair had. 

Anyway, Friday was cool and overcast, but without showers or any rain, so it was the perfect day to go to the fair.  It was also “senior day”, which meant we got in for a bit cheaper price.  When did we get to be seniors, anyway???  I don’t know.

We walked the grounds, toured the buildings, and watched some sulky racing.  Sulky racing at fairs used to be a big event, but these days it is a rare thing to see.  It is too bad to see so many sulky races go, but people have moved on and the times have changed.

We sort of ate our way through the fair.  One interesting thing was B ordered a strawberry/blueberry crepe with a scoop of cream on the side.  I was expecting a crepe with some strawberry and blueberry jam, but no, it had real strawberries and blueberries in it.  We both enjoyed it. 

I spotted someone walking around with a banana dipped in chocolate on a stick but unfortunately, I never got back to that booth.  I did have a Dole Whip, though, and we both liked that too. 

We watched kids showing pigs.  That was fun and the judge was from the Midwest, so he knew his pigs.  We walked through barns of cattle and oxen.  Lots of oxen.  Then we hit the poultry barn.  There were a few rather raucous roos crowing up a storm.  And some of those bad boys were HUGE.  Holy moley I hope I don’t grow one as large as those boys.   They will surely eat me out of house and home, and I don’t envy my poor hens.  We shall see just what I have growing soon enough!

Saturday, the weather improved and the sunshine came out, but with a few afternoon showers.  B spent all afternoon shooting a customer’s new rifle for him.  We had tickets to the Stars Above Circus at 7:00 p.m.  I was hoping for stars, but no stars; just overcast skies.  Anyway, due to a light shower in the afternoon, our show got pushed back to 8:00 p.m.  The show was sort of in Cornish and sort of in Plainfield, in a field outside one of the original Cornish Colony mansions.  It sure was dark outside.  I brought headlamps, but B poo-pooed wearing one; I wore one.  We were about the last people to sit down.  As it was, I had paid extra to get reserved seating, but as it turned out, although reserved, it was not assigned seating, just a reserved seating AREA, so we almost had no seats.  Luckily, we found two chairs.  Note to self; reserved and assigned seating are two different things! 

The show was good and they had several different acts, but of course, no animals.  And no intermission either, so it was about an hour and a half show.  My favorite was a gal with a very large hoop and she did all kinds of things with the hoop and never goofed once.  There was a couple who shot arrows; one through an apple off his wife’s head.  That’s love if you ask me.  The circus was out of Brooklyn, NY, so I figured it had to be pretty good.  I wouldn’t say it rivaled some of the acts on America’s Got Talent show or circus du soleil, but still different and entertaining.

Sunday was breakfast at the Mason’s Lodge in the village.  Then B had several customers show up while I was canning.  Yep.  More tomatoes.  B weighed them and I had another 20 lbs. or so.  I read in my Ball Preserving cookbook about adding seasonings to tomato juice and/or tomatoes to give them a different flavor.  Originally I was going to make tomato juice, but these were mostly Roma tomatoes and too meaty to waste on juice.  However, I made up a batch of Cajun spice and one batch of Italian spice, both recipes from the cookbook.  We had another canner load of 14 pints; 7 Italian flavored and 7 Cajun flavored.  Actually, we had 15 and a half pints, but I kept out the unflavored pint and a half to use later this week in cooking.  I was pooped.  B arrived back in the house from brush cutting work just as I was starting layer two of the canning, so he took over.  I cleaned up and rested.

Now, as to the turkey, one of B’s customers raises turkeys.  Because B has done him some favors, and just to be nice, the guy brought us a 22 lb. frozen turkey last week!  What a whopper!  So, I have been slowly thawing it out and it is now stuffed and in our new oven.  I barely got it in the oven.  However, it smells wonderful.  I  got it in the oven at 12:30, so I figure it will take roughly 5 hours to roast.  And although it is only 3:00 p.m., I can sure smell it and it smells heavenly.  I will keep you posted.

B is over to the hangar this afternoon with what we hope is not yet another tire kicker.  He sure has had a lot of ups and downs trying to sell the hangar.  Supposedly, two parties are interested now, so it is a race to see who makes the commitment and gets a check into B’s hand first.  I sent B off with instructions to come home with corn and donuts.  Just as I was typing this, B texted to ask which kind of corn.  I guess he paid attention!

So, that was our weekend. I have a couple of pictures to leave you with.  First is B plowing into the crepe.

Secondly, for my favorite spoon maker, Dan Dustin, who also hews logs, a picture of the demo of how to hew logs. 

And, finally, a picture of B’s long awaited carrot birthday cake.  I purposely did not frost the whole thing, as B likes the cake better than the frosting!

Stay well.

Nerves of Steel or Perhaps Not – September 15, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Sometimes around here it helps if you have “nerves of steel” but alas, I don’t always.  We have bad storms coming our way, or so the weatherman says, but I am dreading it.  Storms have knocked out an inverter box before.  I know we have a spare one, but I still don’t like storms.  Nowhere to hide in this house, either.  Stay tuned.

Hello Folks,

Lately, it’s been pretty ho-hum around here.  Add to that my lack of interest in writing, which is very unusual for me.  Oh-oh.  I can hear thunder already.  B is just taking off to continue working on the small field he has been cleaning up.  And what a  nice job he has done!  Also, I have 15 minutes on the timer before I need to check on the cake I am baking.

Sunday, we managed round 3 of canning tomatoes.  We did 17 pints.  That meant, we ran the canner through two cycles of 35 minutes each.  This time, I had B weigh the box of mostly Roma tomatoes and we had roughly 20 lbs.  They were pretty darn good tomatoes too.  The first two batches of 14 pints each, the tomatoes seemed so-so, but this batch had really good looking Romas.  Because they were Romas, I was able to keep them in large chunks too.  Anyway, with the leftover pints of tomatoes from last year, I have plenty of tomatoes “put up”, as they say, for this year.

So, what to do with the balance?  Again, I had B weigh what I picked Monday.  We have another 10-11 lbs. to go plus what is still clinging to the vines.  Most of these are also Romas.  I like to try different things, so I am thinking maybe I’ll can tomato juice.  That sounds good to me and seems quite doable.

As I write this on Wednesday, I have the doors upstairs open and I am listening to one of my chickens squawking up a storm.  Although I sent off two boxes of eggs today to the local food bank, the girls have been slowing down in egg production. 

Miss Green Ears is still hanging in there.  She sure enjoys the treats, so I don’t think much is wrong with her.  Yesterday I noticed her tail is even a bit perkier.  However, I don’t think she has the strength to jump up to the sleeping bar in the coop.  Last night she moved from the duck pen to the nesting box B made.  That is on the floor, so she is secure in it and not outstanding, as there is a top to it.  I am fine with her sleeping either in the duck cage or the box. 

I have also observed that she gets picked on at times.  Now, this is nothing new, as she was always the “low man on the totem pole” kind of hen.  I wonder if, like with dogs and cats, do chickens who show any disability or weakness get picked on by the others???  If so, this is a screwed up world for sure.  She should be respected for living 3 years.  Ha, ha.  But you know what I mean.  I do feel bad for her.

This led me to check on the last time my white Leghorn laid an egg.  It has been over a month!  She sometimes “pretends” to lay an egg, which amounts to sitting on someone else’s egg or just sitting in the nesting box to make it appear that she is laying an egg.  I had another hen do that too.  Again, I think it is a defense mechanism so that they aren’t culled unnecessarily.  So, now I am down two hens not laying any eggs, both Leghorns.  I am hoping my elderly NH Red is continuing to lay, but I won’t know until I get a day when I get 7 eggs.  I would hate to have three slackers!

This morning when I went into the coop, I was greeted by a different sound.  Not one, not two, but three loud, clear Cock-a-Doodle-Do sounds greeted me.  I was sure it was coming from Robinhood, but no, it was Jet Blue!  Even he acted surprised.  So, let the fun begin.  I need to keep an eye on my backside, as well as an eye on these two males.  One will live to do his job, the other will either be given away or will be a meal.  Sorry, but when the odds are that you get slightly more male than female chicks, someone has to go.  Farm life isn’t always fun or easy.

Well, I am back from checking the carrot cake; B’s long overdue birthday cake.  You may recall that, a year ago in July when I made the same cake for B’s birthday, it didn’t cook enough.  This was the start of my great oven adventure.  This one, someone knock on wood, looks very good.  I did goof, but I am not saying what I did wrong.  However, there are no obvious signs that anything went wrong.  Of course, I haven’t cut it or frosted it yet, so who knows how this will turn out.  I even ground up the carrots myself rather than buying a package of grated carrots.  It is pretty simple to do if you have a food processor.  But it is a bit messy.

I am closing up today’s blog, as the thunder is getting louder and it is getting darker and darker outside, and B still has not returned from his work.  But before I do, I am leaving you with a better, clearer picture of the ducks and Lucy bathing.  Enjoy!

Stay well.

What a Ride! What a Game! – September 10, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Well, the weather didn’t disappoint us, with yet more rain the other evening.  However, it saved me from having to water veggies so that was good.  Today, Friday, is very cool with a strong NW breeze and in-and-out sunshine.  And what about that ride???  And what about that game???  Read on.

Hello Folks,

Thursday turned a bit upside down.  I had an appointment for a haircut, as well as what is probably my last pedi for this year.  I also was slow on the draw, so I had to go get groceries and decided to go at my usual time, 7:00 a.m.  I got home from grocery shopping at two stores and a gasoline fill-up in time to wipe everything down and put it away.  I also had not eaten, so that was on the agenda and the critters needed fresh water.  Grocery morning is always a bit taxing.

Then I had to turn around and go back to Claremont for my hair and pedi appointment.  By the time that was done, I’d about had it.  When I got home, B wanted to go after a load of good loam that I wanted for my new flower bed.  He invited me to come along for a “fun ride” and “something new”.  Usually, I pass on these excursions, but since I knew I wasn’t up for much else and we were having leftovers for dinner, I agreed to go with B.

But first we had to measure the area and B had to calculate how much loam was needed.  Then he had to call the company and find out how much that would weigh, as they sell it by weight, not volume.   Between B and the guy at the plant, they figured about 2 tons of loam was needed.  That meant we had to go in the big, old Ford 350. 

Okay.  This is the pickup that’s so high I need a hoist to get in.  Done.  And, it started.  However, as a reminder, this is also the truck that B got sideways onto a major route when the truck decided to quit.  It is something about the fuel line and the fuel not getting to the engine or some such thing.  You may recall, this all started after B had to fix some wiring.  I am not suggesting, however, that B had anything to do with the truck’s erratic behavior.  This is just to give you an idea of what lay ahead.

So, off we went.  We got almost into Claremont proper when the engine began to die.  Yep.  Luckily, B found a grassy area that we could pull over into.  Although this is a major route, there are no breakdown lanes and sketchy places to get off the road.

There we sat.  What to do???  No one to call for a ride home, as B’s rescue squad (that’d be me) was stuck there with him.  Finally, B decided to see if his mechanic in Claremont, Don, might be around.  He’d recently gone on vacation.  As luck would have it, Don answered the phone.  Now he has been semi-retired for several years, but has always been very good to B.  I think he finds our vehicle issues challenging.  Anyway, he was amenable to having the truck towed to his shop. 

But just for kicks before calling AAA, B decided to try the pickup one more time.  She started right up!  Could we make it home?  B wanted to get it home and then he would call AAA to come get it and have it hauled to Don’s. 

Well, we made it all the way home.  Because it ran so well on the way home, B decided we should try to drive it to Don’s.  I jumped out and got into my car.  I was to follow B to Don’s.  B went right along and he made it all the way to the mechanic’s safely.  I expected as I rounded each corner to see B horsed up on the side of the road, but no, ole Betsy went all the way with no hiccups.  However, this proved to be not a good day to go after the loam.   So, even though it was running fine (B says it is very hard to fix something that is working OK), we left it at Don’s shop anyway.  The main thing we use it for is hauling fill and B does NOT want to have the pickup fail with 2 tons of fill in the back of it.  He said that AAA would laugh and say, “No way.”

Hopefully, it won’t be a huge issue and is fix-able.  B says anything is fix-able, but I am not quite so confident.  I have been stuck before waiting for AAA in that pickup.

By the time we got home, I’d had it and headed for my Lazy Boy chair.  A doctor’s appointment, a haircut and pedi, and a rotten pickup ride took the steam out of me.

However, I got a new lease on life when I realized it was Thursday evening and the NFL was back playing football.  For those of you who do not know me, football is one of my dirty little secrets.  Why do I love it, I have no clue.  As to understanding the intricacies of it, I am usually lost and every season I have to start fresh all over again. 

And, what a game!  For those of you who do not follow football, the Super Bowl winners from last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with none other than Tom Brady as the quarterback, were playing at home in front of a live and packed stadium against the Dallas Cowboys.  What a game.  It was back and forth scoring.  And the Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, was in great shape.  Dak broke his leg in a game last October and missed practically the entire season.  I guess the rest did him justice.  Anyway, it was a nail biter of a game and we thoroughly enjoyed watching it.  The downside was, it was almost midnight before I got to bed.

And those leftovers we had for dinner, you ask?  It was more bean and Swiss chard soup.  About 2:30, I woke up with a nasty stomach ache and a lot of rumbling.  Yep.  Too much roughage for me.  I was up until a little after 3:00.  B caved at 3:00 and went to bed and I soon followed.  I was sure I wouldn’t sleep, but I did.  Today I feel a little “iffy” but overall, okay.  Tonight we are having something I can digest easier for dinner.

B is back down in the small field that he started mowing the other day with the walk behind cutter.  B says it goes through tall weeds, woody brush, and even small trees like butter.  In fact, he has to keep looking at the ground to make sure it’s really all cut, as it just drives through it all with no resistance.   B is surely enjoying this freebie from the village recycling center to no end.  He says it’s much better for this sort of thing than all the other many machines we have for cutting brush, even a big “Brush Hog” that goes on the back of the tractor.

Also, a bit of an update on Miss Green Ears.  She is still hanging in there!  But she has decided she prefers sleeping in the duck cage at night.  I figure she can no longer make the leap to the roosting bar.  I just leave her alone at night.  However, she is around for treats in the morning.  She doesn’t try to go for any lettuce.  It seems it is such a melee with the NH Reds, that she prefers to stay on the fringes.  This morning I took out four corn cobs for the critters to gnaw on and I noticed she did, indeed, work on an ear of corn.  I have noticed that her comb is not bright red like everyone else’s, so she is definitely slowing down.  I have to give her an A for effort, though.

Stay well.

A Few Lovely Days – September 8, 2021 – at the Clampetts

We have been enjoying some lovely days.  Today, Wednesday, is very breezy, which I understand is a result of some rain that could come in tonight.  Anyway, I am lapping up the nice, dry and sunny days. 

Hello Folks,

I am starting today’s blog with the picture that got inadvertently left out of Monday’s blog.  This is the one with the two ducks and Lucy each in their own swimming pool.  So, here goes:

Because the weather was so gorgeous yesterday, I decided to wash some “once a year” items.  One was a coverlet and a quilt that needed sprucing up.  I used the delicate cycle for all these loads, as they really aren’t dirty, just dusty, and needed a bit of a pick-me-up.

Then I got on a roll and pulled all the polar fleece jackets and vest from the mudroom.  As you may recall, I cleaned the mudroom earlier in the summer, but with such iffy weather, I never did get the jackets, etc. washed.  Yesterday was the day.  Of course, I couldn’t leave it at that, so I tackled the washable jackets.  Why do we hang on to this stuff???  Who knows.  Most of it I washed last summer and never worn and now I’m washing it again.  Anyway, three loads was about all I could handle in one day. 

B came in from working with the walk behind brush mower (the one that we spent $180 to have fixed after B found it in the village metal dumpster) and he was marveling at what a perfect tool it is.  Then he glanced at the clothesline and said, “Wow.  Someone has been busy.”  Yep, that would be me.  By the way, after looking at this long line full of clothes, it makes one realize just why we gave up exchanging Christmas gifts.

So, B spent time using the brush mower and the excavator working on improving the trail to his firing range.  Kimberly also came back, along with her friend, Kristen, and they all worked on smoothing B’s work at the range, then worked on filling in the driveway with more hard pack.  Of course, if we get as much rain tonight/tomorrow as predicted, B may need to re-do it.  Time will tell on that one.

Also, I decided yesterday was the day to clean the downstairs.  It needed it and I had to get out the big guns, the long extension duster in order to reach those pesky daddy long-legs and ensuing cobwebs.  Yes, it was bad.  I also got the kitchen floor washed after having canned two batches of tomatoes.  So, I really was a busy gal yesterday.

Today I had a blood pressure check up at my doctor’s office.  I also made B his overdue yearly wellness checkup with his doctor.  I don’t think he really believed I would do that, but I did.  A once a year checkup is important.  Besides Medicare pays for it, and it really isn’t that much of a checkup if you ask me. 

I took the long route home and stopped for corn and donuts.  That is quite a combo, huh?  Well, neither will last much longer.  I am always sad to see fresh corn go.  This year, due to oven issues, I have been roasting the corn on the grill.  I know it doesn’t matter much if I have an oven or not to cook corn, but I like not having to boil a big pot of water for 6 ears of corn.  It is much easier to grill it with the husks on, in my opinion.

This leads me to my oven.  You may remember that, before Labor Day weekend, we received yet another part for B to replace in the oven.  This part was the main thermostat nd control and there were various electrical and gas lines to disconnect and reconnect.  Although I did not want him to install it himself, he did it one night after I went to bed.  Actually, it went much more smoothly than B anticipated.  And, other than having to crank it 125 degrees higher than the recipe calls for, we are ALMOST there.  B had to call the company again yesterday about the low temperatures.  B has one more adjustment to make and it should be the last.  Please say a little prayer for us as we make yet one more adjustment.

And here’s some free advice.  Never, ever buy an appliance over the internet (or a Big Box Store).  We really didn’t have any idea just how painful this project would be.  Had we known there were appliance places that sold Peerless, like in Keene, which is an hour’s drive from here, we would have bought it from them.  This was very naive of us to do and we have more than paid the price for it.  Every time we call a place for service, the first thing they want to know is where did we buy it.   We had no idea Peerless  Premier could be bought locally.   We thought it was just something you could only get through alternative energy sites.  So the dealer in Keene refused to provide warranty service on it because we hadn’t bought it from them.  So B just went ahead and did it himself.   We had no other alternative, other than trying to return it, which I wanted to do and B said would be even more hassles and leave us with nothing.   It is now going on 3 months of not having an oven or, at the least, an unreliable one.  But I can make casseroles now, and I’m going to try cookies later today.  Remember, that prayer?  Please say it now!

Before leaving for the clinic this morning, I picked a small plastic bin full of Roma tomatoes.  I now have enough for yet another canner load of tomatoes.  But I am giving myself a few more days break before canning batch #3. There are also more tomatoes on the vines.  I don’t think enough for round #4, though.  We shall see.

Well, it is time for the critters to get their afternoon lettuce and for me to start making cookies.  Actually, it is one large 12 inch cast iron pan with cookie/brownie-like batter and a s’mores-like topping.  This ought to be a baking challenge!

Stay well.

Labor Day and Canning Session #2 – September 6, 2021 – at the Clampetts

The weather hasn’t been too bad.  We have had sun, clouds, showers and wind.  In other words, everything but snow and ice!  So, what have we been doing?  Read on.

Hello Folks,

Happy Labor Day to all of you.  I recall, when I was a child, I thought “labor” day meant something to do with giving birth.  Not so!  That is a different kind of labor.  So, what have we been doing over the weekend?  We have kept pretty darn busy.

Saturday was a really lovely day.  I spent about three hours in the morning at a free garden class at Jim’s.  He is the guy I bought daylilies from earlier in the season.  He mostly specializes in hostas, so I knew it wouldn’t pertain all that much to me, as I have little shade areas here, but I figured I would get something out of it.  I did pick up a few hints that might help me.

It also made me realize that my real interest lay in veggies.  However, I am planning a new flower bed on the south side of the shop.  I hope to get some of the prep work done this fall so I can start planting next spring.  I am calling it my butterfly, bee and hummingbird garden.  I do enjoy watching the bees work in the flowers and veggies.

Speaking of veggies, I noticed that several of the few pumpkins I have growing have been gnawed.  Enough so that I cannot salvage them for eating.  I guess I can cut them and let the critters finish them off.  They seem to love pumpkin.

And my one cantaloupe I had growing has also been chewed.  I ditched that one.  Of course, now that it is September, I can see another one trying to come along but it is way too late for this year.  I will try growing them again next year.  I suspect the weather had a lot to do with the lack of blossoms this year.  I plan to pull up that vine and empty that grow box this week.  There is no need to keep watering it. 

My carrots look so-so, but so far, the Brussel sprouts are looking good.  How long will it be before something nibbles them?  I guess I’ll have to wait and see.  I have already ditched both the zucchini vines and cucumbers for this year.  The deck looks much nicer since I pulled the vines and swept.

As I have noted before, I had a good year for bell peppers.  And my onions look good although I have not harvested them yet.

B was busy Saturday and even had a customer stop in.  Sunday we went to the Mason’s breakfast.  Yesterday was the cloudiest day of the weekend.  However, it was warm enough to sit outside and eat breakfast.  We had fun chatting with folks while we ate.

I made the first soup of the season Sunday!  A couple of weeks ago I bought shell-beans at Edgewater Farm.  My mother used to make succotash with shell-beans and corn.  I wasn’t sure how well that would go over, but in the meantime, I found a recipe in Martha Stewart’s magazine for a veggie minestrone soup calling for shell-beans.  Perfect!  It was very good, but I used both chicken broth and beef broth, so my version wasn’t really a vegetarian meal or at least not a vegan meal.  We have a big dish of that leftover.

However, tonight we are having “mystery” meat dinner!  I found a bag of some sort of stew, I guess, in the freezer from last December.  Anyway, all I wrote on the bag was to add more broth and eat over noodles.  Huh!  I don’t recall what it is, but we are having it over noodles for dinner tonight!  Ha, ha, ha.  There is a half a hotdog left from Saturday night for B and I have some veggies we need to eat up to.  So, dinner is sort of a leftover night.  We have these at least once a week, but I usually know what kind of meat I am serving!  Double ha, ha.

I decided this morning I needed to can some more tomatoes.  I got busy washing tomatoes, scoring them, cutting out the core and tossing them into boiling water, skinning and cutting them up.  Then cooking the tomatoes.  Today’s batch is mostly Roma tomatoes with a few others thrown in that were not going to keep much longer.  I got 14 pints, but the last jar is short, about an inch, of juice.  I’ll use that first.  If I had kept the leftovers from the last canning session instead of throwing them into yesterday’s soup, I would have had enough.

When B got up, he said he wanted to work on mowing the hay field out back of the house, meaning, our lawn.  Whew!  We have a lot of grass.  I told him to go ahead, as I know enough about canning tomatoes to do it myself.  So B has been on at least two mowers this afternoon.  See?  We both labor on Labor Day.  You do those kinds of things when you are retired. 

Yesterday, we finally got to meet our new tenants after they arrived the night before after driving in from their hiking trip in the Rockies.  Oddly, they are flying back to Washington (state) to pick up their furniture and driving back during the week.  I guess it pays to be young.  Sometimes, I forget.

So, that covers the weekend.  I am leaving you with some pictures. First up is a picture of our new faucet.  I have to say, the quality just ain’t there, but it works, it doesn’t leak, and I have put the stuff from under the sink back where it belongs.  The head is entirely plastic.  The old one was metal.

Next up is a picture of the first batch of canning tomatoes we did. 

And, finally, a few pictures of Lucy and the ducks.  I have tried and tried to get a picture of them each in one of the rubber “swimming” containers we bought them.  Of course, as you might guess, the water containers are used by everyone to also drink out of!  When I know they have been “swimming” in them, I re-fill them so the water isn’t quite so gross.  Anyway, the other day I heard a lot of splashing and sure enough, each container held a duck or a goose.  So, here it is.

Then I heard them again, so I tried to rush out with my phone to get better pictures, only to find that one duck or the other had gotten out of the water to preen.  So, I stood around for a while hoping he would go back in the water.  He didn’t.  Meanwhile, I got a spraying when Lucy flaps her wings in her bath!

Enjoy and stay well!

Happy 100th Birthday, Mom! – September 3, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Today would be my mother’s 100th birthday, had she made it to 100.  She passed on just shy of a few weeks of turning 95.  Just 5 more years and a few weeks.  That’s the way life is sometimes.  Read on about my mother.

Hello Folks,

As noted above, my mother would be 100 today.  Would she have been proud and happy about it?  Heck, no.  As it was, she could not understand why she lived as long as she did.  I think it is good genes, but what do I know?

My mother had what I call a complex personality.  I know she took secrets to the grave with her.  Do I wish she had talked about these things with me?  Yes and no.  It might have explained a few things better to me if I had known all she did.  I suspect Mom wanted to spare me a few things, so she kept them to herself.

As I have noted in past blogs, Mom grew up poor. The oldest of three siblings (two sisters and a brother), she was very much the typical “first born” child.  She took looking after her sisters very seriously all their lives.  Unfortunately, Mom outlived them all, and I know that was tough on her.  My father, 11 years older than my mother, died way too young, so she also outlived him by a number of years. 

Anyway, having been born first, she had the privilege of having had a large baby picture taken of her, courtesy of her maternal grandmother.  The others didn’t get this luxury and that haunted my grandmother and my mother.  She also got to know her maternal grandmother better than the others, but only until she was about 7.  She loved her “Nonnie” very much.

Because my grandparents were poor, they lived in apartments or rental homes.  They never owned their own home.  I understand this is much more common in the UK than here in the US.  Anyway, I remember Mom telling me that they moved to Massachusetts one school year so my grandfather could work on a horse farm in fancy Pride’s Crossing, MA.  My grandmother’s sister lived nearby, and so my mother and siblings went to church and Sunday school regularly, due to their aunt.  For whatever reason, the arrangement didn’t work out, so back to NH they came.  Again, to live in an apartment in a huge farmhouse owned by my maternal grandmother’s brother and sister.  And my great uncle wasn’t above rubbing their noses in it, either.

Then, a few years later, my grandfather’s family coaxed them into moving to a farm in northern Vermont.  Let me tell you something about Vermont.  At the time, it was considerably more rural, isolated, and difficult to live in than NH.  Until the interstate system in the late 50s and early 60s came along, Vermont was one of the poorest and most isolated states in the union.  With the interstate, tourists and skiers began to flock to Vermont.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway, off to Vermont they went in time for yet another school year.  They almost froze to death in the old, leaky farmhouse.  Had it not been for my, again, maternal grandmother’s family sending care packages, they might well have starved to death too.  The only thing they could grow successfully was potatoes.  Back to NH after school let out and that was where they stayed the rest of their lives.

My mother and both her sisters graduated from high school; something that neither of their parents had done.  My mother had dreams of being a nurse, but there was nothing to pay for her to go to college, so she didn’t go.  In my opinion, my mother would have made an ideal librarian.  Her Virgo nature and attention to detail, besides her love of reading, would have made her an ideal librarian.  I am very sorry she never had an opportunity to follow her dreams.

Instead, she met a guy at the start of WWII, married, and had my brother.  I personally think it was because she knew she was a burden to my grandparents and wanted out of their hair.  My grandfather, along with his father, could be heavy drinkers.  My mother once caught my great-grandfather helping himself to some hard cider in the cellar.  Of course, my mother ratted him out and there was a “to do” about his drinking.  In the end, he was sent packing back to his family. 

Speaking of that, my mother was very strict about “rules.”  In fact, my two aunts used to call her “Mrs. Got Rocks”, mainly due to my mother’s somewhat prudish ways.  I think they called her that in humor and not in meanness.  My mother was never one to flaunt anything, so perhaps they called her that in irony.  I don’t know, but like I said, she was pretty strict about everything and a bit uptight at times.  Ha, ha.

So, once married and with a child and with a husband in the military, she found herself living with her in-laws.  She actually liked her in-laws and enjoyed her time living with them.  But it was short-lived, as due to some unfortunate circumstances, she received a divorce through the mail.  Not anything to be proud of in the 40s.

That meant she had to move back home again and not alone but with a child too.  That must have been especially tough in that era.  It also meant she had to find employment.  She was fortunate.  A very gregarious guy of Greek ancestry settled in town and ran a dry cleaning plant in Manchester, 30 miles away.  Both my mother and my grandfather found employment with him.  They worked Tues – Fri and sometimes Saturday morning.  Along with several other people from town, they rode in the delivery truck and waited while George stopped along the way delivering and picking up clothing.  Like I said, George was a talker, so the rides were long and no interstate highway either; all secondary roads.  But it was a job and she needed it.  She ironed.  No air conditioning in the shop, as they called it, either.  But it paid her bills and paid her way.

Then, when my brother was about 6 or so, along came my father.  The one thing my mother craved was security and, I am sure, a home of her own.  My father offered her both of these.  Shortly after meeting, they married.  My mother was her happiest having married my father and having her own home.  One recurring argument between my mother and I was about security.  My mother could never understand why I, too, didn’t seek security in my marriage.  Why would I?  I had the means to live on my own if need be and my upbringing was entirely different from my mothers.  I could never quite grasp why this was so difficult for her to understand.

Anyway, my mother found her peace and she worked very hard.  She had flower gardens and veggie gardens, she canned, she froze veggies and fruit, and she cooked.  She cooked 3 meals a day, 365 days a year.  If my parents ate out, it was rare and a real treat.  I don’t ever remember my mother complaining about it, though.  One other thing  – my mother had very little interest in food.  She always said she “ate to live” not “lived to eat”.  See???  We were very different!

And my mother was a great seamstress.  I can see her now sitting at the sewing machine ripping out seams because they weren’t perfect.  She made most of my clothes, but she didn’t want them to look like they were “homemade.”  She matched plaids, made vests and, later, pants for me and everything in between. 

Then there was my mother’s fanaticism about cleaning.  Of course, she got that from her mother, who was even more of a cleaning fanatic.  I remember B telling me that when he first started coming to the farm to visit, he was half-expecting Good Housekeeping to show up to take pictures.  There was never anything out of place.  Anything gotten out was put away as soon as we were done using it.  I always chuckle about watching Saturday morning cartoons.  Sure.  I could watch them but that didn’t stop Mom from running the vacuum cleaner all the time the cartoons were on! 

And last, but not least, she also babysat my nephew, Mark.  He was truly the love of her life.  I am not sure at all how my mother accomplished so much, but she did. 

So, in the end, I hope my mother is resting in peace, because if anyone deserves it, she does.  I miss her every day and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I could write this blog.  But I did and it makes me happy to be able to share a part of my mother with you.  She would be very embarrassed, but I am not!  Happy Birthday, Mom!

Stay well.

Up to Our Ears in Canning – September 1, 2021 – at the Clampetts

And, where are we with the rental property?  Did I have to clean again today?  Stay tuned for replies to these burning questions!

Hello Folks,

The countdown is on, as our new tenants will be arriving this weekend.  You know, the ones that haven’t seen the rental property other than the pictures on Craigslist, the video B took, and the pictures the guy’s mother took.  I hope they aren’t disappointed!

Anyway, we are about done with the place by now.  I had reinforcements today to help finish the inside cleaning.  When I arrived, Kimberly came along in a few minutes and surprise, surprise, she brought reinforcements.  Her best friend came with her.  So, I lugged in my cleaning supplies and they lugged in their cleaning supplies.

Since there were two of them and I had logged my hours on Monday, the gals insisted I go home.  It didn’t take much encouragement.  I told them my goal was to have the house smell clean when we open the door for the new tenants.

I guess they took me at their word, as they used a lot of my cleaning cloths and wow, were they strong with cleaning solutions.  I hung them out to dry and I can still smell chemicals.  I will divert a bit here.  A few years aog, I got on a kick to use homemade cleaning supplies or, at the least, the least “chemical” induced ones I could find.  That lasted about two years.  Now I am back to full-force chemical cleaners.  Why, you ask?  Well, in my judgment, they just work better and without as much effort.  I am hoping this winter to go back to some of my former ways, but in the meantime, I am using chemicals to help me clean.  The rental property really needed chemicals.

Amazingly and without prompting, B volunteered that, when he stepped into the rental house, it smelled clean, so whatever they did, it worked!  My objective was met.  Now, if it just stays that way until the new people arrive, that will be great.

That meant I had about two hours at home that I didn’t plan to have.  Did I put my feet up and drink coffee and relax???  Heck, no!  I went to work picking tomatoes and I picked quite a few.  More, rather than less, are tomatoes that need a bit more ripening.  Why didn’t I just leave them on the vines?  It seems we may get some heavy rain tonight, and I didn’t want to lose any tomatoes, so I pulled off the mostly ripe ones to finish ripening inside. 

I have quite a few tomatoes awaiting canning.  I don’t think I have as many as last year, though.  Tomorrow I plan to fix the ones that are ready now and get those babies canned.  I use more tomatoes than anything else I can, so it is important to can as many as possible.  I may need to buy some tomatoes to carry me over.  We shall see.

By the way, B is a great help with my canning.  I do the prep and he does the packing and adding to the canner.  Yesterday, Tuesday, between us we canned 9 pints of dill relish.  This was my first try at relish making and it went really well.  This was the fastest canning I have done.  The beets were the worst, but they are done, so we are moving on now.

Here is a funny.  Monday, I called a local veggie stand to check the availability and price of pickling cucumbers to supplement the last of my own cucumbers.  Anyway, this young, chirpy gal answers the phone.  This makes me nervous.  It seems that whenever I get a young voice on the other end of the line, it means they probably know little or nothing about whatever product I am calling about.  Sure enough, when I stated what I wanted, she very sincerely said that she normally does the “cooking”, so she was just filling in.  And, this is the kicker, she couldn’t ask her boss at the moment, because her boss was transporting a cow!!!  Only in NH or VT would you get an honest answer like that!  I presume, since the place also sells their own meat, the “boss” was driving a cow to the butcher’s.  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.  This even brought a chuckle from B when I told him.  I am still chuckling to myself.

Anyway, the gal wrote down the pertinent info and said someone would get back to me, and they did.  In fact, the next chirpy gal that came into work actually texted her boss and got right back to me.  The deal was sealed.  I had my pickling cucumbers ready to be picked up Tuesday morning.

So, off I went yesterday morning to get the cukes.  I must say, they were the nicest pickling cukes I have ever worked with.  And, they were very tasty too, as I tried one to check the taste.  Usually when you ask for canning veggies, you get ones that are perfectly fine, but maybe just not as “pretty” as the ones at the farmer’s market or in the store or stand. I could go on and on about this issue, but suffice it to say, these were beautiful cukes and sure looked a whole lot better than the ones I grew this year.  I almost felt bad to grind them up for relish, but that was the intent, so I did just that.

B came along at the right time.  I had the canner of water beginning to boil, the jars were simmering in hot water and the relish was good and hot.  B took over and packed the jars and put them in the canner.  He also fiddled with the temperature settings.  This gave me time to get a rest and then, back to doing the clean up.  Anyway, it didn’t take all that long.  Job done!

So, what has B been doing?  Well, after Kimberly and friend finished at the rental, they came up here and threw wood into the woodshed.  B got out the wood splitter and started splitting before his help even arrived.  The gals arrived and picked up the chunks and tossed them into the shed.  I think they worked a steady hour and a half.  By then, all 3 were pretty darn tired.  Luckily, I was making B a sandwich when he came in from splitting.  Next week, the gals return to help patch up the driveway.  Good thing they didn’t plan to do it today, in case we do get some heavy rain leftover from Ida tonight. 

While the wood splitter was running and the gals were chucking wood, I got out the wheelbarrow to clean the coop.  I guess it was bad timing, as the critters were all worked up by the sound of the splitter and the tossing of the wood.  So, I had lots of help cleaning.  I eventually worked through it all, but it wasn’t easy.  I also pulled the last of the zucchini vines and all of the cucumber vines, and tossed all those onto the compost pile.  My plants seemed to dry up awfully early this year. 

This gave me three empty grow boxes (one beet, one zucchini and one cucumber) and I couldn’t just let them sit idle.  I bought a package of Swiss chard seed, one of lettuce and, as a “freebie”, I was sent a package of Red Russian kale with another order.  They are now planted.  I goofed though.  The other day, I planted the kale (I am not even sure if we like kale), only to plant Swiss chard in the same box again today.  Grrr.  What do you think I will get; Swiss chard or kale???  I may not get any,  depending on the weather.  Anyway, it was an experiment, much like the Brussels sprouts that are coming along.

And that is what the Clampetts have been doing the last two days.  Work, work, work and then some.  By the way, Miss Green Ears is alive and seemingly well, despite the droopy tail.  I hope I was premature about her demise!

Stay well.

Miss Green Ears and Other Things – August 30, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Here we are, Monday, again.  And a warm and muggy one at that.  So, what’s going on at the Clampetts???

Hello Folks,

The high temperature and the humidity seem to be back, although not nearly as bad as last week.  Hopefully, this will be short-lived.  One local weather report is saying 79 degrees; one is saying 85.  That is quite a difference.  I suppose the temperature really is somewhere in between.  Each of the next few days is supposed ot be cooler, like a couple 70 degree days.

I’ve been busy this morning.  This is the last week before new tenants arrive in the rental property.  I’ll admit, I’ve been dragging my heels a bit about cleaning.  It all came to a head this morning, so I spent 2 hrs cleaning.  Wednesday I have help and I expect we will put in another 2 hrs.  People can be so messy.  I don’t even want to explain why I think this, but trust me, I do.  I told B I was done with cleaning any more rental properties.  I am too old and I can’t even keep up with our own house.  However, trying to find professional cleaners around here is a nightmare.  I could go on and on about cleaning rental properties, but I’ll suffice it to say, it ain’t fun.

So, on to Miss Green Ears.  Miss Green Ears is my 3 year old brown Leghorn chicken.  I was told when I purchased her in a store that she would lay brown eggs.  Not so.  She lays white eggs like all Leghorns.

Leghorns are a strange breed to me, but I will always try to keep a few in my flock.  They are not warm and cozy, and in fact are quite stand-offish.  However, they are bred to lay eggs, and lay eggs they do.  At least up to a point.  My white Leghorn is still laying regularly, and she is also 3 years old.  I have a difficult time keeping Leghorns alive after 3 years, as they just quit on me.  However, with new chicklettes and my one year old NH Reds, my white Leghorn seems quite content to keep laying.

I strongly believe that having different ages in my flock together makes for a good mix.  The youngsters seem to invigorate the old gals and keep them laying longer.  In other words, they don’t get lazy.  However, watch out if you are a youngster, because the elders like to go to bed early and they don’t appreciate loud, obnoxious and disturbing behavior when you youngsters come to bed.  In fact, you will be given a good peck or two on the head for disturbing the peace.  Honest.

So, back to Miss Green Ears.  Miss Green Ears got her name because her ears were/are green.  B had come in from being in the pen way back and started talking about “Green Ears”.  It took me awhile to understand just who he was talking about.  I had sort of dubbed her “Browny”, but Green Ears was better.

The thing about Green Ears is that she was so skittish for so long.  She would dart in and around you when you threw out some treats, to the point where you would get annoyed with her and so did the other hens.  But what I never could figure out is whether she is skittish because she got picked on by the other hens or was she just born skittish. 

I sort of figured out the answer to that one.  Last year when my 4 NH Reds (I also have a 5th NH Red, but she is an old gal) came along, I began to notice that Green Ears was getting a little calmer.  I also observed that she would go out of her way to peck a newbie.  This always intrigues me.  If you were picked on, why would you then go and pick on another hen???  I detest the hens’ pecking order.  It is so harmful to young chicks. 

Anyway, I have been very happy to see Miss Green Ears a little less tense and a bit calmer as she has aged.  Also, with every new batch of chicklettes, she seems to get more confidence in herself.  But of course, she still likes to give the newbies a good peck.

But last week I began to notice a change in Miss Green Ears.  Her tail was getting droopy.  Otherwise, she was eating and scratching and all that normal stuff.  I also noticed that she can no longer lay an egg.  Since spring she has been laying shell-less eggs.  They come out with a membrane but no hard shell.  I don’t even think she is still doing that any longer.  In other words, she is taking up real estate without payment!

I like my chickens to live out their lives, no matter how short, as comfortably as possible.  The other day I told B I was pretty sure Miss Green Ears was waning.  Droopy tail and all.  Of course, I looked to the internet as to what causes a hen to have a droopy tail and of course I got all kinds of reasons.  The overriding response seemed to be she was suffering from a bound-up egg.  Well, when your eggs slide out as easy as hers do, I didn’t really put much stock in that.  Besides, here we are, a week later, and she is still living.  Bound-up hens usually do not live long without human intervention.  That is where I draw the line. 

So, last night when I counted heads in the coop, no Miss Green Ears.  Now the 3 old gals have their favorite spot in the coop and don’t very often deter from it.  Occasionally, one will plant herself among the young hens, but mainly just to give them a good pecking.  Why???  Who knows!   But Miss Green Ears rarely misses out on a treat and she never fails to go to bed.  I looked around the pen briefly, but didn’t see her anywhere, so I figured she was a goner and I wasn’t going to spend all evening trying to find her.  She has earned the right to stay out all night if she wants to.

I was pleasantly surprised to see her outside this morning; even looking a bit perkier.  I don’t think she is long for this world, but I figure she has paid us back in spades with all the white eggs she has laid.  I’ll let her do what she wants.

Stay well.

Weather and Canning – Tis the Season! – August 28, 2021 – at the Clampetts

Did we get a cool down as predicted???  Just how hot was it???   And what about those beets???

Hello Folks,

We have been very busy beavers lately or, should I say, still???  The heat last week was atrocious.  It was so hot and humid Thursday that our lunch plans changed.

Thursday was probably the hottest and most humid day.  It was also the day of the planned Cornish/Plainfield senior luncheon at a local tavern, scheduled for outside, of course.  Anyway, it is the one senior luncheon that is combined between the two towns, and it moves around to different locations depending on what’s available and how much combined money is donated toward it.  However, thanks to COVID, the last two years it has been at the same location; a tavern in Meriden (part of Plainfield) and outside at picnic tables with umbrellas. 

I wasn’t really looking forward to sitting outside, umbrella or not.  As it turns out, I received an email Wednesday evening saying the luncheon would be a drive-thru event due to the excessive expected heat and humidity.  Good idea.  However, where once we were scheduled for two different seatings, we now were all told the pick-up would be at 11:30; like every monthly senior luncheon.  You can imagine what that was like!

Because I knew it would be a real hubbub, I planned to arrive about 11:30 and, sure enough, the line was already all the way out to the main highway.  It seems that the kitchen had to keep up with the vehicles and that wasn’t easy.  Both leaders from both towns had a checklist and were going from car to car and checking to see if we had previously signed up for the luncheon.  The groups keep the annual luncheon to $5 each person and require advance sign up so that the venue knows how much food to plan on.  The leaders were also asking for our choice of the main meal.  By the way, by the time I got to the leader, there were 9 cars behind.  I have no idea how many cars were ahead of me, though, but many more than 9!

The food choices were the same as last year, meatloaf or haddock.  Now normally, we would have signed on for haddock, but the previous two nights that is what we ate for dinner, so I said meatloaf for both of us.  I mean, just how exciting is meatloaf???

The meatloaf turned out to be good, and we got a very small scoop of mashed potato, some gravy and mixed veggies in our box.  Then we had a box of salad and a box containing a dinner roll and a brownie.  Anyway, it was something different, but of course, I missed the atmosphere of the group setting. I for one am getting mighty tired of COVID spoiling everything.

We ate our lunch once we got home.  Then I had to drive back to Plainfield to Edgewater Farm veggie stand to pick up the 15 lbs. of beets I ordered, in order to can pickled beets.  We were down to 6 jars from the previous year.  Once home, I decided it was best to hold the beets until Friday in hopes the air and temperature were better.  I also pulled the beets I had planted, which only amounted to about a pound.  It wasn’t a great beet year for me.  Since I started my day by going to the grocery stores, I was done with Thursday.

By the way, Thursday lived up to its anticipated heat and humidity.  It was mostly sunny with temps up to 90 again and high heat indexes.  A real winner of a day.

So, Friday I put on my canning hat.  The temperature was still in the mid-80s and, as the day wore on, the humidity kept dropping.  By the time the sun started getting low in the sky, before sunset, the oppressive heat was definitely dropping. By dark, we were wearing our vests, and enjoying the coolness. Today, it is nice and cool, with about 50% humidity.

Anyway, B hauled the box of beets out to the pop-up tent we have over the shooting bench (one must have their priorities you realize), so it would be in the shade, and hauled the water hose over there, too, for me.  I grabbed a veggie scrub brush, a knife and my 12 quart pot and out I went.  B had to bring the pot back into the house for me when I was done, as it was full.  That meant I needed to divide the pot into two pots in order to cook the beets.

Cooking beets is one of those labor of love things for me.  Even after dividing this into two pots, I quickly realized I should have gone with three pots.  Live and learn.  It took quite a while to get all the beets cooked, but I persevered.  Once cooled, I moved the beets into my largest stainless steel pan, 20 quarts, and before bed, B hauled that down to the basement; the coolest place we had.  No way was that big 20 qt. pan going to fit in my refrigerator.

Sooo, this morning dawned nice and cool, as predicted – in the 60s. I hauled the pan upstairs and started peeling and slicing the beets.  Of course, I had red juice everywhere, but I figured I could live with that.  As I was cutting the beets, B was on a mission of his own.

At one of the rental properties, he needed to cut down an old apple tree that he had tried to save years ago by holding it up with a steel cable.  However, the tree was just getting worse all the time.  Naturally, this couldn’t happen without a little drama.

Just as B was turning onto the main highway, the truck quit.  Yep.  He was halfway across the road, right in the center, blocking both lanes, with dead engine and it would not restart.  Luckily and miraculously, traffic was light.  Anyway, he managed to push it off the road by himself and texted me to come get him.  Another potential TOWING project was in the forecast.    Somehow, he got it started before I got there, and got to the driveway all in one piece.  You just have to love old vehicles.  They have so much character – not.

So, back to the ranch for me (I didn’t get his “I got it started” text until I got there), and I continued to cut up the beets.  In hindsight, it would have made more sense to peel and slice the beets at the same time.  Note to self about that!  I write lots of notes on our canning recipes.

That jobbie done, and on to getting the canner or water bath container set up, and then boiling the sauce I made this morning.  By the time B arrived back with the cut up apple tree, it was almost time for him to take over.

It seems to work out well that I prep and get the veggies/fruit ready and then let B pack and put the jars into the canner.  He is better at packing than I am and he also fiddles with the temperatures better than I do.  Sooo, what we thought would be a full canner load, 14 pints, left us with about enough beets and sauce for 5 more jars.

Since it was a water bath and only a 10 minute bath at that, we elected to fill 5 more jars and run the canner again.  Normally, we don’t do that because of the use of so much energy to run the canner for just 5 jars, but since it was a water bath and the water was already hot, it was very quick, so that is what we did.  We still have enough beets and sauce for dinner.  I had made extra sauce based on our previous notes.  See, notes help, but only if you read them!!  Ha, ha.

I am now basking in listening to lids popping as I write this.  Everyone who cans loves to sit back and listen to the lids pop; knowing you got a good seal.  Between us, we have washed and dried dishes, washed the floor (and some skin) of beet juice, and sanitized the counters; again.  The kitchen is nice and sparkly!

Here is a picture of our effort.

Pretty color, eh???  So, what’s next?  I think I am going to call a local stand about buying 7-8 lbs. of cucumbers and make pickle relish, which I have never done.  I like to try something new each year. 

We have already made raspberry jam, courtesy of John and Sandy and sweet tea pickles, courtesy of my own cukes.  And, of course, we will be canning tomatoes soon.  Stay tuned and stay well.