Thursday, August 29, 2013

Canning Peaches Without a Kitchen Sink

It is possible to can peaches without a kitchen sink! And I have pictures to prove it. :)

Here's my game face:

Here are the instructions I followed from my grandma's Ball Canning Book: 

The peaches!

The work station:


Here's a view of the work station with the broken faucet in the foreground:


By the time the cans of peaches were simmering for the second time (I wasn't sure if they had sealed the first time), I was starving, so I ate the whole box of mac and cheese. :)


The outcome! The Tupperware on the left is peach sauce (like applesauce). I had a number of peaches left that were pretty bruised, so I cooked down the peaches, added sugar and cinnamon, and then mixed in cornstarch to thicken it. It tastes like the filling of a peach pie. Yum!


So while a broken kitchen sink is an inconvenience, it can't stop the process of preserving fresh fruits and veggies for the summer! What fresh produce are you enjoying?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You Never Know What a Day Will Bring

My mom has a saying. "You never know what a day will bring." I came home today and unloaded all my stuff as usual...lunchbox, Costco purchases, purse, keys. I was buzzing around the kitchen mentally preparing to start canning a small batch of peaches when I decided to check my phone. I had two texts and one phone call, all from my housemate. One text read: "The kitchen faucet is broken. Like out of commission broken." I gasped and looked up. Sure enough, the top of the faucet had broken off. I desperately tried to latch it back on to see if I could get some water out of the tap, but no luck. Well, there goes canning peaches, was my first thought. Momentary panic ensued considering I'm supposed to can many quarts of peaches and applesauce this weekend. I hurriedly sent a text to the landlord and called my parents. Of course this would have to happen in the middle of preserving season!

Fortunately, we have a deep sink in the downstairs laundry room right next to the washing machine. After dinner, the top of the washing machine looked like this:

Not ideal, but actually it wasn't too bad an arrangement for the short term. I was also consoled by a delicious dinner I made. I've been so busy with cooking projects and other things that I haven't had much energy to cook meals for myself. Tonight, though, I used zucchini and garden tomatoes and green onions to make a fresh garden quesadilla with pepper jack cheese. As I sat down to dinner, I reflected on my housemate's second text which admitted several points of conflict between the two of us that we needed to talk through. When I thought of her text, my heart's pace picked up and my appetite drained away. Conflict is hard for me to deal with, especially receiving criticism.

After dinner, I set off on a walk feeling distressed. A paraphrased quote came to mind that seemed to apply to the situation: "If God took things away one by one that we had failed to be thankful for, what would be left? Would we have hands or ears? Eyes or lungs?" As I crunched along on the gravel path, I thanked God for basement sinks, hands, eyes, and ears, but I was still distressed. I started up the big hill that leads to Whitworth and each step seemed to pound out my frustrations. I was mostly angry at myself. Angry that my plans had changed because of the sink and that my own selfishness and short sightedness had caused conflict with my roommate that is yet unresolved.

When I got to the top of the hill, I was gasping for breath and tears stung hard in the corners of my eyes. I didn't feel at peace, per se, but I had come to grips with the situation, conflict and broken faucet both. I knew, despite my bumblings and the circumstances that cause me to cry out my mom's saying, that God was still present and at work, even when I'm too short sighted to realize my own mistakes. Thankfully, walking gave me the thinking space to recognize my guilt and made me eager to talk with my housemate. And thankfully, it's not too late to reconcile with her.

There's still one problem though. How does one can peaches without a kitchen sink?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Early August Garden Update

My garden (for the most part) is growing well this year. This post will show how far things have grown since my last garden post. My dad had the idea to juxtapose pictures of the garden in June with pictures of the garden now. I've done that with the first four photos. Here's the contrast with how the straw bales have grown:

We put black plastic in the center to keep the weeds down and it's worked well. We had some trouble with aphids on the tomatoes, so Dottie asked a man at a nursery what to do, and he said the straw bales need to be fertilized once a week. Dottie has been graciously adding fish emulsion (or, as she says, fish poop) on all the bales once a week, and I have also added granular fertilizer twice and will again this weekend.

Here's the main part of the garden in June. Everything looks so tiny!
Explosion! In this picture you can see hollyhocks (far left), bush beans, three varities of potatoes, cosmos, snapdragons, and you can faintly see basil in the middle of the photo. I also have four tomatoes, a bush cucumber, and some lovely volunteer nasturtiums behind the hollyhocks.
Here's the same patch as above, but from a slightly different angle. My cosmos bolted up, but the zinnias didn't do as well this year. I also planted carrots twice with nothing to show and my peas didn't do well. Dottie and I are wondering if something in the soil is bad, since it seems to be a certain patch. Any gardeners out there want to give their thoughts?
Here I have two lovely lemon cucumber plants. My family grew these when I was growing up, so my sister and I have always loved them. I've already picked one small cucumber, and I'm hoping to have a couple to take to my family when I visit next week.

These are Juliet tomatoes in the plot behind the hollyhocks. The Juliet is a thin Roma variety that Dottie loves to grow, so I thought I'd try them out this year. So far, so good! I'm also so excited because my heirloom tomato "Ananas Noire" that has big multicolored slicing tomatoes is looking so healthy! It has dark green foilage and the little green tomatoes are starting to appear. I'm praying the August heat will be enough for them to grow big and flavorful.
An baby English cucumber in one of the straw bales! Looking good!

A beautiful, delicate Seashell Cosmos. The cosmos have grown well this year, and I've already used several of the blooms for a flower bouquet. I love having fresh flowers in the house!

That's the garden tour for August! I'll have another report in early September. Oh, I can hardly wait! How's your garden coming along?