Rosey the Riveter

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rolling in Pickles!

I was so excited to get out of the house last night and head to the Produce Auction.  Prices were really decent, so I came home with almost 100 lbs of produce.
One box of cukes and also the zucchini was for a friend of mine who couldn't make it.  The tomatoes will ripen and then I want to make a batch of homemade Rotel with the jalapenos that have started coming in from the garden.  I tackled my box of cucumbers today and ended up with 6 quarts of Kosher Dills and 6 more quarts of Bread and Butter pickles.  I still have some more left, so they may be turned into refrigerator pickles.

The figs will be turned into strawberry fig jam, and the kids polished off the Watermelon this afternoon. 

School starts on Tuesday, so I am looking forward to having some uninterrupted processing time.  And gardening time, since fall gardening is ever so much more pleasant that summer gardening!

I am also super excited about the upcoming Harvest Heritage Festival at Monticello.  Hubby is staying home with the kids and I am heading up with a friend of mine.  Three hours of adult conversation to get there, a whole day of learning (including a tour of Jefferson's garden by Peter Hatch, himself), a night away, hopefully a visit to a local orchard to stock up on apples, and more conversation on the way home.  HEAVEN!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Where has summer gone?

This month has been a whirlwind.  I've been up to my ears in produce... most recently, apples.  I made apple sauce and apple pie filling (still have apple butter from last fall!) and an apple crisp... and I still have more apples needing to be processed.  I only started with 30lbs worth!

Other projects:

The Honeybee Festival at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.  The girls got to uncap the honeycomb and then spin the frames in the extractor to see honey flowing.  I told them they better pay attention, because next year we'll be needing all the help we can get!

The best discovery so far this summer has been the VA Beach Farmer's Market Produce Auction.  The photo below was my haul from my first night attending (they are held every Wednesday through the end of Sept, I believe).  I forgot what I spent, but I think it was like $63 for everything.  And I had a blast.
The second time I went, I had a smaller haul but I was so pleased to finally score some pickling cukes.  I made a batch of bread and butter pickles using my Aunt Audrey's recipe.  These are the pickles I grew up on and I was tickled pink when I tasted them... exactly how I remember them!
I wasn't planning on buying zucchini, but they were selling two boxes and I bid $4 thinking it would get things moving.  No one bid against me!  Luckily, my neighbor took one box.  I *ONLY* got 12 quarts of shredded zucchini out of what you see there!
There were 6 ears of field corn in the box I purchased at the first auction, so I dried them and ground them into cornmeal.  Works like a charm on the pizza stone!
I made this lunch bag from a pattern I got online... it's designed to hold two pint jars for those looking to eliminate plastics.  I was so thrilled with the way it came out, I bought a few more patterns and will be sewing some more bags this winter!

 My basil was wanting to flower, so I 'trimmed' it and had to make several batches of pesto.  Gotta love herbs!
This is what my canning shelf looks like (mind you, the jelly cupboard has been full for awhile!)  I am officially out of room.  But the vineyard opens 9/1 and I WILL be picking grapes for juice and jelly!

I didn't take any pictures, but this afternoon I finally got around to making mozzarella with the kit from New England Cheesemaking.  It really wasn't hard at all and I can't wait to have fresh cheese for our pizza nights!

This week I hope to stock the freezer with items for the kids' snacks and lunches so that once school starts next week, it won't be such a chore packing them.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh, Goodness!

It's been entirely too long since I've posted.  The days have flown by with family visiting and canning, canning, canning.

A couple weeks ago, my neighbors got together and we had a salsa canning party.  We prepped the veggies in the afternoon and canned in the evening.

And drank Margaritas while the salsa was in the canner.  Three of the five were canning newbies.  It was so much fun it is now going to be an annual event.  And they want to do applesauce in the fall and strawberry jam in the spring.

44 pints of salsa in one night!

Another really fun evening was last Wednesday when I was finally able to go to the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market Auction.  I met some new friends and had an absolute blast.

And I scored all these goodies for $63.  The corn was canned, the pears are ripening, the greenbeans were for my neighbor, and the potatoes and onions will eventually be dehydrated.  I used the peppers in This Yummy Recipe for Spicy Pepper Mustard and had enough to freeze and use in a second batch of salsa.  The figs were dehydrated and also made into a batch of jam.

In addition to peaches (more on them later), I also have been processing grapes.  The local orchard doesn't open for picking until September first, but the supermarket had some on sale for .99/lb and I decided to experiment with making juice to see if we liked it.  If so, I'll make a bunch with the local grape varieties like Muscadine and Scuppernong.

I used This Recipe which couldn't be any easier, assuming you have a pressure canner.