Hello dear friends! This will be an abbreviated post, as I'm squeezing it in between my granddaughter's naps. Babysitting the grandchildren and two grandpuppies this week while their mom and dad are celebrating their tenth anniversary. First, I'd like to thank you all for your wonderful words of encouragement. I think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald that said that life begins anew in the Fall, and I always felt that way. The beauty of the season always fills me with hope.
This week we've spent many hours at the park and beach, making up bedtime stories, playing pretend and chasing a toddler. We sing Old MacDonalds very loudly in the car and tell knock-knock jokes. Felix, who's three, makes up jokes. When I queried him where does he "get" them from, he said that they are just in his body and come out his mouth. Isn't that a wonderful way to be? It seems the older we get the more we over analyze and riddle ourselves with self-doubt, when all all the time what we really need is just in our body. Call it discernment, spidey-sense, gut instinct, or whatever, I believe that we all truly know what we need in our heart.
Lately my spirit is telling me that I need to stock up. For the longest time it wasn't, in spite of doom and gloom the news was relaying . Long ago, I stopped listening to financial news, it seemed we were always on the verge of collapse. I discovered that is just the nature of news, they profit in making people fearful and worried. The news is equally as horrid, always traumatizing it's viewers. How many times do you need to see rioting or war scenes? Can't do a thing about them anyhow. Scare tactics keep people tuned in, though, and more viewers mean more money for the networks. I often wonder what life was like before TV, when people just got their news via the newspapers. It's quite a different thing to read about events then to watch the events over and over again all day long. They don't call shows "programs" for nothing. That is why I always advice my fretful friends to turn off the TV. Go outside and talk to your neighbors. Spend time reading a good book. Watch an old movie. You'll soon find your outlook on life changing. Truly, in spite of all the wars and rumors of wars, the world is really a wonderful place it you care to seek it.
So this week I canned. I thought I was finished and was glad to pull up the plants, in spite of the fact, I could get more produce from them. But then that little small voice starting prompting me to put up more. We still had lots of peppers (it was a whiz-bang year for peppers) and tomatoes so I canned 15 jars of chili. I couldn't find anyone else to give the extra peaches to, so I made up a batch of maple-vanilla peach jam. The recipe I had was outrageously expensive with a quart of maple syrup and a vanilla bean, but it sounded delicious. So I just made regular peach jam and stirred in a teaspoon of maple and vanilla extract. Turned out wonderfully. Then a local store had their annual sale of sirloin roasts at $2.99/lb, if you bought a large one weighing over ten pounds. I couldn't pass that up. This is one of my favorite things to can. I cut the meat into strips and season them with salt and pepper, brown them with a minimum amount of olive oil, deglazing the pan as I brown each batch. Pour the meat and the juices into a stockpot and simmer while preparing the jars. Then pack the meat and juice into pint jars, about a pound of meat per jar and process at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. This makes the moistest, tenderest meat you could ever imagine. Great for stews, potpies, soups and heated with some sour cream and made into a stroganoff.
We also dried peppers and tomatoes. Our dried peppers and tomatoes taste better than the fresh ones in the produce aisle in the winter. We just pour boiling water over them in a bowl and let them set until they soften up. These are used in soups, casseroles, and pizzas. We also grind the tomatoes to make our own tomato bouillon. I used to buy the Knorr's brand, it adds so much richness to chicken and beef soups. Also, we grow paprika peppers that we dry and grind to make our own paprika. You can do this with chili peppers to make your own chili powder, too. We grind ours in an old coffee grinder.
Speaking of drying tomatoes, here's the old-fashioned way to make authentic sun-dried ones: Cut your tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds. Place them cut-side down on a large clean board. Cover with cheesecloth and lean the board someplace sunny outside, slanting the board enough so that the juices flow downward. Must have a hot dry spell of weather for this to work.
THRIFTY THING WE DID THIS WEEK
Dried peppers and tomatoes.
Canned chili, maple-vanilla-peach jam, and sirloin.
Harvested and dried bay leaves.
Harvest, tomatoes, peppers, peaches and pears.
Darned a hole in Ran's favorite shorts.
Mailed in a rebate.
The usuals: hang the laundry to dry outside, wash with our old wringer washer, ate from the pantry, etc.
Well, that's it for this abbreviated post! Can you believe we are already half-way done with September? I leave you with this quote by Oscar Wilde, "We're all down here in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars". Hope you all find something truly magnificent every day!