What a week. Work has been crazy busy and we've had people on vacation so it means lots of covering for others. I worked on Saturday so that means I had a 6 day stretch of work with only one day off before Monday. But, that means that I have Friday off so I'll have a 3 day weekend. I'll most likely be canning tomatoes, if I've got them.
It's Monday again. That means the Independence Days Challenge update.
1. Plant something- Nope
2. Harvest something:
Lets see, I'm finally starting to get tomatoes. I also have harvested wild plums, peppers (both hot and bell), eggplant, chard, beans and tomatillos. With the peppers. I've got an overload of hot wax peppers and lots of anaheim chilis and jalapenos. I've had a few bell peppers finally and we tried our first paprika pepper (Alma Paprika- an heirloom variety) Man, it was HOT!! I guess I thought that paprika would be milder. I've got a few that are starting to turn red so I'm hoping to be able to dry some. It should be fun. I'm thinking homemade chicken paprika...
Oh, and have I mentioned that I HATE MICE? That has become my mantra while picking tomatoes. It seems that about every other tomato I pick has been nibbled upon. See?
Have I mentioned that I hate mice?
I've found that as soon as the tomatoes even barely begin to ripen they get snacked upon. I've noticed fewer nibbles in recent days though, I'm not sure if it is due to our feral momma cat hanging out in the garden or the tomatoes ripening faster than the mice can keep up with. And of course, they can't just eat an entire tomato- no, they have to nibble on lots of them. And also, they can't seem to eat the cherry tomatoes, of which I have about fifteen thousand- no, they have to nibble on the really big, nice ones. They seem to like my paste tomatoes and the Mortgage lifters best. GRRR. So, I've started picking the tomatoes when they just start to turn and have been letting them ripen in the house. Definitely not ideal, but at least I was able to get 5 quarts of sauce cooked up yesterday.
3. Preserve something- tomato sauce, that's about it. I need to do something with my plums but I don't have enough to really make jam. Either that or I need to climb the fence and get further into the thicket.
4. Reduce waste- Hmm, just the usual. We need to make a run to the recyclers again but J15 helped clear off my old table in the kitchen that had been stacked with plastic recyclables and returnable bottles. I can't say that I reduced waste on back to school shopping, although we did try to go through the stuff the kids had left over from last year. But it still seems that we spent a fortune. Of course, we had to get J15 a graphing calculator and that definitely wasn't cheap. The one she used last year was one that V had pulled out of a dumpster a few years ago and was so old that the design was different than her teacher had so she had lots of trouble following along in class. (sigh)
5. Prep and storage- picked up some flour that was on sale. Also got extra spiral notebooks for the kids- they had a really good deal and I know they'll need them next year as well.
We really, really need to get the framing done in the basement, we've discovered that mice have been getting into a few boxes in the shop (pole barn). Of course, the mice have been everywhere. I even discovered a mouse nest in the garden- a nest of dead weeds and mulch, perched in a tomato plant (GRRR!). I saw momma mouse dart out of it. V disposed of the nest for me- he said I just didn't want to know about the contents.... He's dispatched at least 3 other nests of baby mice that he has found in the shop and barn. I'm counting this in the prep/storage category because it definitely impacts my ability to safely store anything. V is finishing the framing on my canning/food storage room this evening- YEAH!!! We had to move the freezer (still loaded!) so he could frame the wall behind it. But at least it now has an outlet that is set in a wall, not just a temporary one.
6. Community food systems- We've been eating quite local lately- well, except for the shrimp the other night. J15 and I stopped at a roadside stand and purchased a few cucumbers and a cantaloupe. We didn't really need the melon but it smelled SO good!
7. Eat the food- Oh, yeah! This has been the easiest category. We've had several almost all home produced meals this week. This evening we had pasta with a sauce made of sauteed onions, peppers, polish sausage and very lightly cooked, roughly chopped tomatoes with some fresh basil tossed in. A bit of shredded parmesan on top = YUM!
I12 has been cooking again. Last night he made a quiche- ham and cheese- and we had salads entirely from our garden (well, except for the farmer's stand cucumbers). A few bread sticks, a bottle of wine and it felt like we were in southern France.
Tomorrow night is the before school ice cream social. It's a community tradition. A few days before the start of school, every elementary school has an ice cream social on the school lawn where the class lists are posted, the children can meet their teachers and the parents can turn in forms, sign up for things and put money in the lunch accounts. I think K9 is excited about a new school, as well as a little worried. But we think that the younger brother of one of I11's friends from preschool may be in K9's class since he would be about that age and they go to that elementary school. We'll find out tomorrow.