Category: Preserving

SFH Journal: 2018-08-03 & 04 Verdant Pastures?

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This stream is actually part of the SFH lawn

Highlight: In today’s exciting episode of “Serendipity Farmhouse – The Night of the Rain Monster”. Mr. Monte, the World’s most excellent Main Coon cat, successfully defended SFH from creeping vines, mega-worms, river rats, and many other weird and terrifying, rain-spawned monsters. He was fearsome, ferocious, and unrelenting in his labors to protect his kingdom and his two big cats. When the sun finally broke through this morning, he looked across the field of battle, saw his enemies vanquished, and he meowed victoriously.

Now, dispensing with that painful attempt at humor, the featured picture shows the state of what used to be our lawn. It is now now a verdant pasture suitable only for raising a large herd of grass-fed cattle. Meanwhile, the water continues to flow through the yard, making mowing impossible.

Weather: Yes, it rained again this morning, but the sun finally appeared from behind the clouds and shown gloriously for the remainder of the day. Only one problem – the humidity is back to haunt us.

2018-08-03: High – 78º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-04: High – 86º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

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Cherry tomato bush going bad

Harvest: Soon, we will have to make a serious decision – leave the tomatoes in the ground and watch them wither and die, or pull them out and admit defeat. Even our cherry tomatoes, which were doing very well until this week, have begun to succumb to rain-induced maladies. The bottom line is: salsa and pasta sauce canning will be more expensive this year because we will have to buy tomatoes from outside sources rather than use our own.

2018-08-03: nothing to report

2018-08-04: 5 cherry tomatoes

SFH Journal: 2018-07-23

Highlight: Highlights on a rainy Monday are sometimes hard to find. For me, a supper of Portuguese bean soup with authentic Portuguese-style linguiça from Fall River, MA was a treat. Perhaps a little heavy for this time of year, dearest wife was only mildly satisfied with the dish. Nevertheless, it reminded me of childhood days spent with my cousin Emma and her family. Let’s just call it Portuguese comfort food.

Someday, I will show you how to lift your breakfast to new heights with linguiça and scrambled eggs.

Weather: Today was cloudy, a bit warmer, with mixed sunshine, rain, and drizzle. The humidity was a bit higher, but still manageable.

2018-07-23: High – 80º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: Now the gardens are beginning to increase their output. Today, lovely spouse picked 6 okra pods, 3 jalapenos, 2 cherry tomatoes, and two regular tomatoes. That may not seem like much, but we are now nearing critical mass on okra and jalapenos. The plants are loaded with ripening pods and peppers. It’s time to prepare for freezing and pickling.

SFH Canning 2018-01: Uncanny Canning

Forgive the pun, but for us canning is a process, an uncanny process.

Our very first canning experience was dictated by what we were given to can and not necessarily on what we wanted to can – in fact, we didn’t really know how to can anything.

Plums, oh yes, lots and lots of plums. More plums than we could eat, more plums than we could store. They were a gift from a friend. We couldn’t throw them out. There was only one course of action – we would learn how to can.

That, my dear friends, was the uncanny beginning to our caning avocation.

We won’t take you through the entire experience of that frightful, delightful day. Suffice it to say, we didn’t even know what it meant when the filled jars pinged. We thought we had blown it; we thought we had failed; we thought our entire day had been in vain.

Ah, but that ping, those six pings, those wonderful pings were truly the sign of success. We were now veteran canners.

SFH-C-2018-01ANow remember, too many plums meant we had to can. Towards the end of this last planting season, we had too many peppers. We had jalapenos, we had salsas, and we had habanero peppers everywhere. We pickled them. We dehydrated them. We put them into our salsa. We cooked them and ate them. Yet, we had to find another way to use them.

My beautiful, adorable spouse found the answer, by golly. “Hubby,” she said, “we’re going to make hot pepper jelly out of those little red and green rascals.” Her wish was my command.

First experiences are the most fun. We tried to find canning recipes for hot pepper jelly. We must have looked through sixty or so before we narrowed the field down to just two. Even those two didn’t give us exactly what we wanted, so we had to combine and modify them.

Rather than run you through all twists and turns, here are links to the two recipes we chose: Allrecipes Hot Pepper Jelly and Genius Kitchen Jalapeno Jelly.

Others might quibble, quarrel, or disagree, but my most important finding during this entire exercise was: Don’t, I repeat don’t use the 2 (3 ounce) envelopes of liquid pectin. If you do, the result quite likely will be the same as my September batch – liquid, highly liquid, non-gelled jelly.

After waiting two days for a miracle to happen, I had to take the original six jars, pour them back into a pot, re-heat the batch and add powdered pectin. Then everything had to be re-processed. – – Then the miracle happened! Using our new-found knowledge about pectin, our October batch was perfection.

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Voila! We now have hot pepper jelly. Okay, so we have hot pepper jelly – what do you do with it?

Our initial answer to that all important questions was – toast a bagel, spread cream cheese lightly, then add hot pepper jelly on top. Yum! What a way to start the day!

That, however was not the ultimate answer. No siree! Imagine if you will baked chicken thighs (some may prefer breasts, but thighs are where the taste action is) covered with a mixture of honey, Dijon mustard, and hot pepper jelly. The result is smooth, spicy, slightly sweet, and just plain delicious.

Our base recipe was Allrecipes Pepper Jelly Glazed Chicken, but feel free to modify and experiment. When it comes to hot peppers, be adventurous and enjoy the results.