Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Problem solved?

This is my newest kitchen gadget. It's about nine inches long and two wide. The little white box allows the stuff being grated to be held in place without losing a layer of the hand doing the grating. I love it! It's for slicing garlic, and works wonderfully for that. But notice the grating section on the right. I'm so excited!

Recently, we had the horrible flood of 2011 that put the power here out for a day. Our phone still worked, and our son called to see how we were getting along. (I should re-phrase that, I suppose. That looks like he might have been concerned whether DH and I were at each other's throats. No ... he was asking how we were managing without power.) Anyway ... he commented that this would be a good test of our emergency preparedness.

I told him that I had already learned one thing I'd not done right. I need to stop buying only whole coffee beans! I have an old-fashioned percolator and a gas stove that will light with a match, so we're good on that front. I use a little electric grinder every morning to make my brew from coffee beans. Not good in a power outage. The thought ran through my head to use my old-fashioned cheese grater that has four sides, one a fine grating section. Not a good plan, unless you like knuckle skin in your coffee. Ghack!

Now, in an absolute emergency during which I might have to go without coffee for an extended period of time, I COULD improvise using this handy, dandy little gadget. (You'd think I'd wean myself from the vile stuff instead, wouldn't ya? I did it once, by drinking hot water with lemon. Yeah -- go figure!)

As promised ...

A picture of Linda and her finished quilt:

Civil War repro fabrics; tons of custom quilting
(pattern available from Aunt Sass’s Quilts - Waverly, NY)

Linda tackled this huge quilt as the first project on the computerized machine. She took an introductory class on the machine and then dove right in, using many advanced techniques and learning as she went. Linda encountered lots of "learning opportunities" in the process. To top it off, she even had to be rescued by her DH and taken home because while she was here, the roads she'd use to get home flooded. Having lots of coffee (for me) and chocolate (for her) on hand helped. She stuck with it and got 'er done. Good job, Linda! Have fun binding that one!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I've created a monster ...

When the weatherman warns of impending frost threatening our gardens, country minds turn to squirrelling away supplies for winter. It's time to gather in everything we can, and to figure out a way to keep it from spoiling.

Tomatoes get canned. Or frozen, if there's enough space in the freezer. (Not here. Not this year. The water bath canner is getting a workout this week.) PaPa can't keep up with all the pickles, even with help from our little pickle-eater. I think he tries to eat them as fast as I can make them, just so I have to do it all over again to have any to store away. With freezer space at a premium, the only veggie going in there now is broccoli. Just can't even THINK about canning it. Ugh.

Some years we get no grapes from our vines. Probably because of the way I do the pruning. (Badly.) This year, we have lots. I picked and made juice; canned it. That's always a treat in the middle of winter. I can't even guess how many gallons we must've gone thru when my kids were young. One time, a jillion years ago, my mother made a concord grape pie. It was delicious, so I asked for her recipe. You wouldn't believe the nonsense involved in that! You have to squeeze the grapes outta their skins (oh ... but don't toss them ... you'll need them later), remove the tenacious little seeds, boil stuff, add stuff ... whew! Eventually, you wind up with an incredible pie. But you will have earned it!

After MD died, I gave the cookbook from whence the grape pie recipe came to a young friend who collects cookbooks. And actually USES them. She made the pie this weekend. You can read her tale here: http://beckysbiscuits.blogspot.com/

I made sauerkraut for the first time in about 30 years, and only because I saw P. Allen Smith do it in a way that doesn't involve crocks of fermenting cabbage stinking up the whole house. I did that once. If you think making concord grape Pie is bad, try THAT one on for size!

Anyway ... while I was fussing about in the kitchen, DH came in and started rummaging around for something sweet. I told him that if he'd pick some apples, I'd make him a pie. He did. I did. And the last of that pie went into his lunchbox for work today. As he readied for work, he commented that when he gets back home, he's going to pick some more apples. Uh-oh. I think I've created a monster.

Our local quilt guild had to cancel the show we had planned because of the massive flooding around here, so I found myself with some extra time. I jumped into my car and made the long trip (made longer by detours around damaged roads) down to visit my son and his family. The next morning, he and I tooted over to the quilt show down near Philly. Just a hop, skip and a jump from his house! How cool is that?!? I grabbed the makings of a wallhanging I've had in mind for two years now while I was there. And a new ruler-gadget. And little else. What restraint! Oh ... and I saw Aunt Cass's patterns on display at a vendor's booth. Woo-hoo! Cathie and Linda are playing with the big boys now!

Linda K got her huge quilt finished. It looks great! I'll post a picture as soon as I figure out where I left the camera. Promise.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Storm At Sea ...

The past week here was a total washout. We had over 10 inches of rain on Wednesday, thanks to the tropical storm Lee passing by and being held in place over the northeast by a hurricane out in the Atlantic. Or at least, that's what I thought they said was the cause on the TV weather report. My son called that day to see if our animals were lining up in pairs yet. (If we got flooded out up on our hill, they surely would be!)

The storm left a path of devastation worse than that which was seen as a result of the horrible Hurricane Agnes in this area back in 1972. Many people's homes were left in a state of disaster. It's heart-wrenching to think of the loss and the aftermath. It all happened so fast, folks really didn't have time to prepare for the flooding, and barely had time to escape the rising waters themselves in some places. Thankfully, the only problem we suffered here was a few inches of water in the cellar. Not enough to cause any real damage.

Isn't it kind of ironic that the last quilt that got finished here before the storm was Cyndi F's Storm At Sea? It turned out beautifully, and she sent a photo just like she promised:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Screw the cabbages!

No ... really! If you have a lot of cabbage in the garden and are getting way too much rain (like we are), give them a quarter-turn. It will keep them from cracking.

Tuesday's Shopping Horror Story: I was in a DIY store, had a long-handled item in my cart and headed toward the check-out. A young-ish woman was near the end of the aisle I was in, and as I approached her, she backed up to the center of the aisle and dialed a call on her cell phone. When I got close, she didn't bother to move over a tad so I could pass, so I politely said, "Excuse me." Not pushy, not loud, not anything. I couldn't believe it when she spun around and huffed something very rude at me. I don't know what came over me, but I stopped dead in my tracks. Thought for a half-second, and then turned to her and said, "Is there a problem?"

She snapped back, "You DON'T have to knock me down!"

?!?What? I didn't even brush against her as I passed. I would have, at this point, liked to knock her down. This woman, who like so many others nowadays, could not make it through a stop in the store without making a cell phone call, was rude enough to block the whole aisle to do it, and barked at ME for politely trying to pass her. She was not such a large person that she needed all the space available -- she just had no concern for anybody but herself. Grrrrr. So I said I asked her to excuse me so I would NOT have to knock her down to get by. She snarled, "Do you MIND? I'm on the phone."

I had to leave. I wanted to shove her phone where the sun doesn't shine. Shopping just does NOT bring out the best in me. Then I had to go to five, yes FIVE different stores to find cat wormer. Even the pet store had none.

It was one of those days when I had a jillion errands to do, and many stores to stop at to get everything on my list. It was also one of those days when the cash registers and/or cashiers broke down just as I approached. If I were rich, I'd definitely hire someone to shop for me. I'd rather shovel manure any day than shop.

My last stop was the grocery store. There too, a woman was blocking the aisle. She did NOT have a cell phone in hand. As I approached, SHE said excuse me and moved so I could pass. Thankfully! My view of humanity somewhat restored.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More fiber than the cereal aisle …

We’ve been eating mostly just what comes from the garden lately. Mmmm-mmm! Gotta love this time of year! I give myself permission to disregard the weeds in favor of using my time to harvest and prepare as much as I can. The freezer is at max capacity, so it’s time to go into the canning mode. Talk about a time-consuming occupation! I certainly can see why home-cooked meals have fallen so far into disfavor. Not only does it take so much time, but the clean-up is enough to kill. At least, if you’re trying to clean up MY kitchen after I’ve spent a day in it. I’m a slob. No getting around it. But I’m also a pretty good cook, if I DO say so myself. I wish I could find some sucker who’d agree to clean up for me in exchange for room and board.

Our quilting guild is having a show in a few weeks. Here’s my entry:

Do you think I’ll get it finished in time? The optimist in me says I will. The realist in me says “no way.” Oh … you didn’t know about my multiple personalities? Not in the clinical sense, mind you, but there’s certainly more than one side to my story. One of the ladies here recently asked me if I work well under pressure. Is there any other way? Who knew?!?

Cyndi F came and did a queen-sized quilt in a day here last Thursday. My camera was in hiding at the moment. She promises to send a photo we took with her phone, and I’ll post it when I get it – very nice Storm At Sea, quilted with a wavy design to carry on the theme.

Linda M was here the same day, but didn’t get finished so will return tomorrow. She’s busy with an original design by Cathi W – done in Civil War repro fabs and custom quilting. It’s a ton of work, but will be spectacular when she gets it done. You’ll know when that happens – the sigh of relief will surely be heard ‘round the world. I'll bet you can see it at the quilt show September 24-25 ( http://www.emqg.org/2011show.html -- they are vending patterns there).

Friday, September 2, 2011

What shall I do with this mess?!?

HE wants steak and french fries for dinner. Tsk!

What is not apparent by the photo is that this is a LARGE amount of food. That bucket of yellow beans is about 10x12x8 inches deep, and overflowing. And this is just today's load. We seem to be blessed with an abundance, in spite a year of set-backs due to illness and weather that has gone haywire.

The geese got their fill of tomatoes spoiled by slugs and the nasty pears that dropped to the ground. The cows will get the over-grown squash and cukes. They line up and wait outside the garden fence to see what the day's harvest will provide for them. I swear I can't turn my back on the cukes or squash. Seemingly overnight they go from eyeball size to boats and flying saucers.

I've got a mess of pickles ready to process. Gotta get that done before it gets too late. You know what they say ... make pickles while the sun shines! (or was that hay?) Anyway, gotta do it.

And where, may I ask, did everybody go? I seem to remember someone saying that she'd come harvest the garden if I'd grow it. Another wanted to come do the canning with me. And there were a number of "followers" on this blog. They've all disappeared! Don't tell me I missed The Rapture!