Inspiring

I’ve been doing a lot of food preservation this summer and early fall. It’s a satisfying thing to see our well-stocked freezer and a couple of pantry shelves heavy-laden with canning jars. Canning is hard work…long hours on your feet. But my canning efforts pale in comparison to these that I found featured online. I stand amazed!

Pantry 2010

Photo credit here.


Photo credit here.


Photo credit here.


Photo credit here.


Photo credit here.

The Carrot Harvest

Yesterday was carrot harvesting day! Max and I pulled up a wheelbarrow full of them!


I planted Scarlet Nantes (those are the orange ones) and Cosmic Purple (the red-purple ones). Cosmic Purple because Max saw the seeds at the co-op market and insisted that we plant them this year. He loves carrots!


Carrots basking in the late-afternoon sunshine, after their intial washing outdoors.


The curious shape of carrot mutants is always amusing. We had two that looked like identical pairs of legs (and yet a third set that looked like one leg and a peg leg). But my favorite was this one, that I called some sort of frog creature with tail plummage.


We processed the carrots assembly-line style. I was in charge of thorough washing, peeling (of the orange carrots only, as peeling the Cosmic Purple ones peels off all their purple), root and odd appendage removal. Max then cut them into rounds with the crinkle cutter. Colette was in charge of taking all the rounds and cutting them into similarly shaped pieces. Then I was in charge of blanching and freezing. Clearly we needed a fourth person in the process.


Cosmic Purple carrots look like candy corn when cut!



Fresh Air

In just over a week, we will be welcoming friends for a visit! Since today was the last forecasted warm day before their arrival, I took the opportunity to wash the guest room bed’s cherry-red quilt and hang it to dry from the deck railing. Linens drying in the fresh air always make me smile.



Mama Said

“Mama said there’d be days like this…


...there’d be days like this, my mama said.” – The Shirelles

Cooking School

For my mom’s birthday this year, I gave her a cooking class (of her choice) at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York, Maine when she came to New England. So the two of us took a course in their beautiful kitchen.


Everything a cook could need is right at her fingertips in this kitchen. I thought of how nice it would be to have a whole crock of whisks or tongs, and how frequently we wash some of our kitchen tools (ladles, tongs, and dough scrapers especially).



The cooking school staff had prepared trays with everything needed for each recipe that was to be prepared. Here are two of them. So beautiful in their fresh deliciousness!



Our instructor was Susie Middleton (shown here in the pink sweater), the former editor-in-chief Fine Cooking magazine. (I have a subscription to that magazine, and I highly recommend it!) She left the fast-paced world of New York behind, and now lives on Martha’s Vineyard, where she writes and has a small farm and farm stand.


The arrangement of the hour and a half-long course was such that the instructor worked through four different dishes giving lots of excellent technique tips. As she demonstrated and spoke, a member of the staff was busy dishing up plates with that dish on it for everyone to sample.


The menu for the class, which was entitled “Late Summer Farmers’ Market Grazing Menu”, was:

-Crispy Red Potato Patties with Asian Slaw and Limey Dipping Sauce

-Fresh Corn, Zucchini, Onion, and Basil Frittata

-Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry, Shallot, and Pecan Rustic Savory Tart (our favorite of the day!)


- Brown Sugar Roasted Plums with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream


It was a delicious and fun afternoon, and one we wish we could repeat more often.

Welcome Autumn!


Yellow, mellow, riped days,
Sheltered in a golden coating;
O’er the dreamy, listless haze,
White and dainty cloudlets, floating;
Winking at the blushing trees,
And the somber, furrowed fallows;
Smiling at the airy ease,
Of the southward flying swallow.
Sweet and smiling are thy ways,
Beauteous, golden autumn days.

Will Carleton

Harbor Tour

For my dad’s birthday this year, I gave him a harbor tour (for two) when he came to visit. So while my parents were with us, Dad got his gift, and Max and I went too. We boarded The Heritage at Portsmouth Harbor.


Behind us we could see the bridge that spans the Piscataqua River. When you cross this bridge, you cross from New Hampshire into Maine (or vice versa, depending on your direction).


The captain piloted the craft and narrated for the hour+ long cruise.


I love this large park that sits on the harbor, and the white steeple towering over the town.


We enjoyed looking at the beautiful homes along the harbor.



Along the northern part of the harbor, there was a massive, abandoned building that looked like a castle. We were quite surprised to learn that it is an abandoned naval prison. Prisoners sent here were serving life sentences, and the prison was notorious for its terrible conditions. The captain said that the cells were 7′ x 10′ and three men lived in a cell. The guards were U.S. Marines, and there was never an escape. The penalty for the guard who let a prisoner escape was that he had to serve the prisoner’s sentence.


To our great delight, a seal, who was eating a fish, swam by our boat. The captain said, “This is like something out of National Geographic! You don’t get to see this very often, folks!”


My dad, enjoying New England clam chowder on a boat in the Atlantic! A true New England experience!


The Wentworth by the Sea, a grand hotel built in 1874 and still open for guests today.


This lighthouse sits in the harbor. The captain said waves have been known to crash to the top of that lighthouse in very fierce nor’easters. He said that the last time that happened was during the storm that the movie “The Perfect Storm” was made about. He said that the lighthouse has stood strong because its walls are constructed from 5-ft. thick dovetailed granite blocks.


I think they were enjoying themselves!



Dominoes

A big bag of Dominoes (well over 100 of them), brought home from an antique store, have found a home in a old, wooden bowl on the coffee table.  I suspect lots of memories will be made around those.



Savory Bundles


Braiding onions to hang is so much fun! And it’s quite simple. You start with three onions, with their tops coming towards you. You braid the tops, just like hair, just twice to get the braid started. Then you add an onion to the middle strand of the grouping, and cross over it with the next one from the outside. Then add another onion to the middle, and so on and so on. Don’t overburden the braid by adding too many. When you get near the top, divide the tops into two parts and tie them in half a knot. Ours now hang in the basement, just waiting to be called to duty.

This Week's Prserving Plan

My parents have gone off on a side-trip for a few days, so I’m planning on doing a lot of harvesting and preserving while they are gone.


Here’s what I hope to accomplish this week:

- 2 more batches of Fire-Roasted Salsa (from our own roma tomatoes and jalapenos). (I did get this done today, and adding this to what I’d already done, I now have enough salsa frozen to last us for the next year).

- a few pints of sweet pickle spears (from our own pickling cucumbers)

- pureed pumpkin frozen (from the Boston Marrow squashes from our garden)

- a few more pints of stewed tomatoes (from the beefsteak tomatoes in the garden)

- peaches (a few canned, and the rest turned into peach pie filling for the freezer). (I purchased peaches from a farmstand.)

- carrots (a couple hundred are awaiting me in the garden; to be blanched and frozen)

- corn (would like to purchase 50 more ears from a local farmer)

- a couple of batches of the Barefoot Contessa’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (made almost entirely from ingredients from our garden, plus homemade chicken stock from the freezer)

- more flowers dried (plan to visit another u-pick flower farm to cut straw flowers)

That’s the plan. Reality may be quite different. But the harvest waits for no woman. Make hay while the sun shines!

Visit

My parents are here for a visit, so blogging is sporadic right now. The agenda for their visit looks something like this:

-hold new great-grandbaby
-make pilgrimage to L.L. Bean Outlet
-visit the farmers' markets
-spot wildlife
-hold new great-grandbaby
-eat good food
-hold new grandbaby

You get the idea.

The rain finally left today, and we were able to go to the farmers' market.





More sunshine and more days together ahead.

My Magnum Opus

I've been doting over a giant Boston Marrow squash all summer.  I grew it from a seed.  It's a beauty!  What a thrill to watch it grow!


It is 16" long, 39 1/2" around its girth, and weighs in at 18 lbs.!

Sabbath Rest

Sunflowers from the garden, a bit hurricane ruffled, but lovely anyway.

"But especially was it of rich and boundless grace that he gave his only Son for our restoration. By our fall, we are cast down so low into sin and misery, so deeply plunged into a most miserable and sinful condition, that it may truly be said, although all things are infinitely easy to God with respect to his omnipotency, yet with respect God's holiness and justice, God himself could not redeem us with­ a great deal of cost, no, not without infinite costs; that is, not without the presence of that, that is of infinite worth and value, even he blood of his Son, and in proper speaking, the blood of God, of divine person."  --Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon Glorious Grace (full text can be read here)

Dining on the Deck

Max sanded and sanded the old patio table.  Then Technohubby put layer after layer of finish on it.  Now it’s done and it moved from the basement to the deck this week. Last night we had our first dinner on the deck! I’m so grateful for all their hard work, because dining on the deck is really very lovely.



Mini-Vacation-Date

Technohubby had today off of work, so we made the day a long date...or a mini-vacation.

The view from our lunch table. We watched while people drove their boats over to the marina, docked them, and came ashore for a bite to eat, some ice cream, a little shopping. We watched as people walked their dogs. And we watched adorable little kids trying to rock the wooden docks.


I know nothing about boats, but I do know this was my favorite of the day.


A little strolling, hand-in-hand, down these charming streets.



There was some chocolate seeking and finding, a cup of coffee for him, and a little window shopping.


We were charmed by the hard-to-catch weathervane on top of the bake shop.


And I did some antiquing in this fabulous old barn filled with all manner of great New England antiques: a mounted moose head, an old boat strung up with a block and tackle from the rafters, windsor chairs, yelloware, a great old butter churn, antique framed photos from old hunting and fishing expeditions in the White Mountains, handwoven baskets, and about a million other things. An enormous amount of dominoes came home with us.


But mostly the day was about time together and great conversation!
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