Friday, October 30, 2009

A fall-ish kind of day

It's one of those glorious fall days - clear sky everywhere and bright leaves reflecting the light. It's going to get warmer later, and I plan to get out for a stroll at lunchtime. They're giving the H1N1 shots here in my building, and the cries of bored children in the queue are making my head ache - as well as making me feel false flu symptoms. Heavens, they aren't even sick!
There's been heavy frost the last few days, so nothing much going on garden-wise. I'm glad I got the carrots in earlier - and now I'm wondering if I'll lose them in the garage. We really need a root cellar. There are a few leeks left in the ground, and I started a bed for garlic last week - I understand that it's important to put them in late enough that they don't sprout, but early enough that they get roots established before freeze-up. I know that I've planted bulbs after Hallowe'en before now, so I think I still have time. I picked off all the tiny bulbs from the sides of the cloves I harvested just a week ago or so, and have them drying in the porch for the exactly right planting day.
In knitting, I'm almost finished the middle brown skein of that onion-dyed Kroy sock yarn. It came out in three shades, so I'm making Clark's "Shetland Triangle" shawl with the three colours - first and lightest colour the beginning, which I knit solid, them the second lace chart in medium, and the edge in the darkest colour. I'm pretty pleased so far - the lace is really easy and the colours go well. There's quite a demarcation between the light and the medium, so I knit one row of lace with the light, so the change will come within the lace part. I may do the same with the darkest - do one repeat of the main lace then go on to the edge. I am trying to use up all of the yarn, of course, and get the biggest possible shawl.
I wanted to mention that, around the time of the new moon this month, we had some unusually high tides - I'm sure I've never seen anything higher even when storm-assisted. Naturally it's in the middle of the day so it's more noticeable, but these were huge. I wish I could move pictures about in this program, because it will probably go where it wishes, not beside this part of the post. Anyway, this is the same view of the brook in a wintertime post, but this time with the water well up in the field. Evidence for global warming? time to look for land higher up?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm Thankful

In an update to the pickling news, cooking the mustard pickles quickly on the stove, rather than slowly in the slow cooker, is a much greater success. I was ready to blame the recipe, but it's defo the method. The stove-top ones are bright yellow, crisp and thick. The slow-cooked ones are mushy, brownish and runny. I have learned my lesson!

Excitement of an Irish dancing nature: We have tickets to Riverdance for tomorrow night - this stop in Charlottetown - for 18 performances - is their last performance in Canada. We all thought they were crazy to have so many shows in such a small place - and they've sold out! So much for *my* understanding of theatre and such!

Anyway, one of the principal dancers got in touch with Helen, our set dance teacher (through Bill Lynch's Set Dancing News, presumably) and offered to hold lessons for local folks. Seemed like a great opportunity for local step dancers and such; so, with some misgivings, Helen took it on - notifying all the dancing teachers and getting the word out. She has had a great response, and there are four classes set up. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced step, and a set/ceili dance workshop for us old folks. I'm not sure what we'll get out of it - it will either be far too simple for us (with 12 years' experience!) or well over our heads with stepping and high kicks, etc. Should be an adventure in any case.

All the parents who came in to register kids are very excited, and most have already seen the show. Wouldn't it be great if someone were to capitalize on the interest in Irish step by becoming qualified, and starting to teach Irish step on a regular basis?

We're having a week or torrential rain and wind - potato farmers are in despair, as their heavy machinery can't work in wet fields, and the fields are really wet... standing water in many cases. My consolation is that at least it's not frosty, so my remaining veg are getting more ripe - Marjorie Williston, the CBC garden guru, says ripening is a matter of time, not sun.

I'm struggling to finish the sulphur yellow socks - a mystery pattern by Nancy Bush in Ravelry's Sock Knitters' Anonymous group, and the September challenge. I have until the end of this month to post a picture - have done of the heels on both, and progressing slowly on the feet. My problem is that I'm not being true to my socks as I've started a jacket with some lovely heathery Briggs & Little Heritage 2-ply and it's claiming my heart at the moment. The socks are at the stage when they are good car knitting, but as I'm driving mostly when I'm in the car that doesn't work very well.

ETA: I have planted the Samuel Holland climbing rose at the south end of the deck - there should be plenty of sun, especially as I have cut down the old lilac which has been such an eyesore the past three years. I'm also planning an expansion of the flower bed in front of the lilac hedge by plastic-mulching - I hope that next year the area will be easy to dig, with the grass all killed off underneath. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Home and Garden

I've been clearing up in the garden and have come up with amazing numbers of tomatoes - naturally all the fresh eating ones are close to being finished, but the Roma ones are just getting going in earnest. Of course, we have already had frost episodes, so they don't have much time to ripen.
I went out on Saturday and collected a big green pickle bucket full of ripe and (mostly) not ripe ones, which I washed and separated into hopeful (for sitting around and turning red indoors) and hopeless. There were a LOT of green ones, so I looked up recipes and decided on green tomato chow.
The recipe called for a peck of green tomatoes. Now, I don't know how to measure a peck, but Fred found references on t'internet - one said a peck is 10.5 pounds and another said 12 pounds. I had just enough to come up the middle at 11.25 pounds. Sliced, salted and covered with water, and left them to sit overnight.
Next day, I chopped 5 pounds of onions (my hands still smell) and cooked them up. It made 11 of the big canning jars. Fred said we have to eat fish three times a week to use it all up.
I also found quite a few cucumbers - I had planted them next to the pumpkins, which of course took over, so I had no idea that any cucumbers had survived. I found a total of 11, and, as I had a recipe for mustard pickles which called for 12, I bought two and we chopped and readied the batch last night.
Since it's been so long since I've pickled, I made the classic mistake of putting the sauce on the vegetables, and, combined with high heat, the sauce promptly burned to the bottom of the pot! Dumped them out quite quickly, and, as the pot was BADLY burned, determined to try again tomorrow. Just as I was closing the fridge, I thought of the slow cooker - large capacity, boils liquids slowly - decided to give it a try. The whole batch didn't fit, but I put in what would, and turned it on to low. Got up at 4 and shut it off, and bottled this morning. They're dark, and quite runny - typical of slow cooking, no liquid gets boiled off.
I hope they're edible, and I still have some uncooked in the smaller pot to try in the traditional way tonight. The slow cooker made six large canning jars, and a sampler of about half a cup.
I'd like to try cucumber relish, but I wish that the recipes didn't make such a huge batch - if they don't turn out, you've invested a LOT of time and materials. The recipe I found called for celery, as well as cucumber, and I'm not sure that was a feature of the relish I had at Henry's. Didn't notice it, anyway.
The whole house smells of boiling vinegar, so perhaps I should take a break from all of this and clear up - we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday so some major cleaning is in order. And then salsa!