the farmwives kitchen :: salsa under the stars

It sounds like I’ve been out dancing with my Fellow Man, doesn’t it?  Heh heh.  Not quite.  Though fitting two people into our small kitchen makes for a bit of dancing!

The day had already been full.salsa 1

Between other projects I weighed out a big batch of paste tomatoes that had been waiting for the time to make salsa.

At 5 p.m., we realized that if we didn’t make salsa today, it wouldn’t happen until the weekend, and the tomatoes wouldn’t wait that long.  The shorter days and cooler nights have made the tomatoes seem all the more precious than they already were in this funky growing year.  That bit of thinking lit a fire under our tail.  We made a pot of rice for dinner, sent the kids to bed on their own, and got to work.

Back in my carefree younger years, I did all my canning at night.  It was cooler.  I was busy during the day.  It worked for me.salsa 3

It doesn’t work quite so well now, but it happened anyway.

With the well-choreographed help of my Fellow Man, we chopped, mixed, fired up two canners and put up 28 pints of salsa.  All mild, for the kids sake, bless their sleepy hearts.  We could easily eat more salsa than that between now and the next tomato season, but by golly, if that’s the salsa we’ve got, we’ll be thankful for it when tomato season comes to a close.salsa 4

Tightening the last jar lid in the cool night air, I took one more glance at the stars.  Isn’t it fine, this life?  The days are full of things to do, and the nights are full of salsa, and stars.

salsa 2

inspired

A year ago this spring, we planted a new strawberry patch. The new patch got fairly weedy last summer, and when winter rolled around the deer hammered those plants repeatedly until there was scarcely anything left. This spring when the remaining plants began to re-grow, the patch was so scant that turning them under was the best option. We didn’t have any fresh strawberries to eat this spring, which was a painful thing! But we never got around to planting more strawberries this spring in preparation for next year’s fruit. So it goes.

But the thought of NOT having strawberries again next year has been lingering in our minds. We recalled, however, that the nearby Amish community plants strawberries each fall, covers them with row cover through the winter, uncovers them when they begin to flower in the spring, harvests a boat load of berries, and then turns the crop under… treating the strawberries as an annual crop instead of a perennial. So we did a little research and found a variety, “Chandler”, that fit the bill. But when I went to the community to pick up our weekly milk, my milk lady had a bunch of flats of strawberries in her front yard (the same variety we researched) awaiting planting. I asked about them and she told me that another neighbor had ordered a bunch for the whole community and was pretty sure there were extras. Indeed!IMGP2049IMGP2047So, in the spur of the moment, I picked up three flats hoping that Eric would agree with my decision and not think me too crazy for adding one more project to our already too long list. Lo and behold, he was very pleased and got right on preparing a couple of garden beds. The next morning, we spread compost and got those berries in the ground! It’s always fun to try something new, especially if it means we will have strawberries next spring after all!

right now :: cider pressing

Here we were, at the tail end of a string of nice dry days and the cusp of a wet spell.  We could have been transplanting Fall greens.  We could have been mowing the long grass.  We could have been putting up a batch of tomatoes.  But it was time to press some apples, and that’s just not something to miss.

the raw material

the raw material

this is not an apple tree.  it's a beautiful mature magnolia growing just beside the pressing station.

this is not an apple tree. it’s a beautiful mature magnolia growing just beside the pressing station.

Some long time friends of ours have a beautiful well-established homestead and a nice big old press.  During the season, they open it up for any of us who have trees, or can scavenge apples, to come do some pressing.  We work together, cranking the wheel to chop the apples up, and cranking the press to mash the juice out of them.  Some local horses and pigs enjoy the remnants of our labors.

lulah gets a hand on the crank.

lulah gets a hand on the crank.

happy pigs

happy pigs

And we sure do enjoy that juice.

yum.

yum.