Until the last oil boom, fresh fish of any kind was a rarity here in the grocery stores. The influx of oil workers from Gulf Coast states changed that, and now we have a pretty reliable supply of fish and shellfish. Fresh lobsters are still a rarity, and when one of the local grocery stores advertised fresh lobsters, $9.99 each, Husband and I decided to try to get a couple.
The sale was on for a Saturday starting at 10:00. Customers were limited to four lobsters each. We arrived at 9:45 to find the line stretching from the back of the store to the front door. We qued up, and waited patiently while the line got longer and longer behind us. Store employees were taking photographs of the customers. By 10: 15, they were sold out. We didn’t get to move ahead much at all before the lobsters were gone.
I can’t say I was too disappointed not getting lobster. It was going to be a busy weekend anyway, and a couple of lobsters would have made it even busier. I marveled, though, at the dozens of people who got there before us, determined to get a lobster at a fairly decent price. I typically hate standing in line for things. I don’t know why I was willing to do so this time. I suppose the novelty of fresh lobster was a draw.
When have you stood in line for something. Was it worth the wait?
You know me – a good coupon can draw me in any time. This time it was Feisty Cherry Diet Coke. I like chilis, I like cherries, I like Diet Coke. Heck I will even admit to liking Cherry Diet Coke. And I like hot in my food. But turns out that chili, cherry and coke together do not light my fuse! Guess I’m just not feisty enough?
What contradictions do you have in your life?
(And what do I do with the remaining 11 cans?)
The earliest 28° frost/freeze where we live can occur any time between late August to late September. Last Friday, the National Weather Service warned us that a killing freeze/frost could occur Monday and Tuesday nights, September 7 and 8. That is pretty early, and all the signs were indicative of this calamity.
On Sunday, Husband and I harvested all the chard, green and red New Mexico peppers, red sweet peppers, and any tomato that showed any inclination of ripening indoors. (Tomatoes that have been subjected to a frost when they are still on the vine should not be canned. It produces some enzyme that is contrary to safe canning.) That meant a trip to several local liquor stores to get boxes for ripening tomatoes, as well as a search for canning jars. (There are no canning jars to be had in our town now, as everyone was scrambling to save their garden produce, too. )
We spent Monday figuring out how to maximize the canning jars and lids we still had, and to cook up a couple dozen chili peppers for enchilada sauce. We covered bean poles with comforters and blankets, and also covered pepper plants and cantelopes with old table cloths and a large tarp. So much for a restful Labor Day Weekend.
Tuesday morning dawned with frost covered roofs and droopy tomato plants. Similar cold temperatures are predicted for Tuesday evening, so we will leave everything covered until Wednesday. By then, warmer evening temperatures are predicted.
When has the weather changed your plans?
Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bleach…. I was lucky enough to have these items already in the house when shelter-in-place hit and people started to hoard. I was surprised by the flour/yeast panic and the run on King Arthur bread mixes, but again, I had enough on hand to get through. I was also surprised to not find garlic in the stores for a couple of weeks; the produce guy at Cub was stumped. Garlic salt isn’t the greatest substitute for fresh garlic, but we managed.
But pectic? This one brought me up short. I headed out early one morning and picked a big flat of raspberries and as is my custom, I stopped at Kowalski’s on the way home. There on the shelf where the pectin usually lives was a big hole. I asked an employee… they said that they haven’t been able to keep canning supplies and pectin in stock. Same story for a few other places I quickly called.
Unfortunately you can’t just keep fresh raspberries sitting around forever, so I kept calling and did find pectin at my local hardware store, although it was a different brand than I usually use to cook my jam. Since beggars can’t be choosers, I bought it and headed home. (The hardware store shelves in the canning section were basically bare; I actually got the last jar of pectin!) After a long search on the internet, I finally found a comparable low-sugar recipe that I could use. Presumably the jam will be fine when I thaw the first jar – you wouldn’t think you could mess up berries and sugar with a different kind of pectin, right?
Have you run out of anything lately?
Today is the anniversary in 1837 of the manufacturing by pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins of Worcestershire sauce. Were they bored? What were they thinking? Why?
What is your favorite sauce?
Last weekend was a real scramble dealing with all the garden produce that chose to ripen at the same time. We made our tried and true Minestrone ala Milanese recipe from Anna Thomas’ Vegitarian Epicure. It makes twelve or more servings, and I thought what a good thing to have on hand if a Congress of Baboons showed up at the door!
That really got me imagining how I would go about feeding a mixed bunch of vegetarians and omnivores at the same time. I think it could be quite fun. I haven’t settled on a menu yet, but it is fun to think about.
What would you serve at a dinner party for twelve people of differing food preferences?
Husband’s new smoker/grill arrived on Tuesday. You can see it in the header photo. It is quite the machine, something my dad would have called a “delicate piece of equipment” given all the complexity involved in using it. It is iron, true. It took two trips to the hardware store just to unpack it. We needed a tin snips to cut the thick, wire strapping that secured its protective wrappings. Then we found it was firmly attached to a heavy wooden pallet by screws that had odd heads needing a bit with a square head for the electric screwdriver. I am thankful I managed to remove the screws without stripping them. What would we have done then?!
Husband has waited years for this grill with the same anticipation as a child waiting for a long hoped-for special toy at Christmas. His first smoked sausage and country style pork ribs turned just as he wanted. We are truly blessed with good cooking equipment.
What is the most complex piece of equipment you ever had to operate? What is your favorite cooking vessel or utensil.
For the first time ever, we have an infestation of flea beetles in the kohlrabi and cabbage. You can see in the header photo what they did to the kohlrabi leaves in just a couple of days. We very rarely have insect problems in the garden, and usually never have to apply insecticide. This time the Sevin was sprayed vigorously on these tiny, black, flying beetles the size of sesame seeds. We will wait three days to harvest, then all the cabbagey things are getting removed.
I am both fascinated and repelled by insects. I know we need some, like bees, but I wish they weren’t so destructive. People here try to catch flea beetles and take them to the Badlands and put them on Leafy Spurge, an invasive plant that is toxic to cattle and resistant to herbicides. What a wonderful use for them. I like useful insects, but that is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.
What are your favorite/least favorite insects? How do you manage them in your garden? What are your feelings about insecticides?
Husband and I started six varieties of peppers from seed this year. We started two sweet red peppers (Spanish Giants and Ajvarskis) and two hot chilis (Joe Parker, a New Mexico Hatch type red chili, and Chimayo, a smaller, hotter, New Mexico red Chili). We also started some Habaneros and Thai chilis for our son
We labeled them and were careful to not mix them up. When we planted, I was certain that all the Joe Parkers were given to my secretary, as we decided at the last minute we didn’t want them. The Thai chilis and one Habanero went to our son, and all the rest, (17 in total) went into our garden. Or so we thought. Imagine my surprise when son sent photos of the alleged Habanero that looked long and slender like a Joe Parker. Two of what I thought were Chimayos also turned out to be Joe Parkers, and now we can’t tell the difference between the Spanish Giants and the Ajvarskis, as their tags got all mixed up when we planted. The header photo shows what I think are, from left to right a Spanish Giant, an Ajvarski, and Chimayo. (The latter are quite easy to discern.)
Husband tried to do a taste test between two big peppers, but they tasted similar. I decided the only way to solve this mystery is to not start any Joe Parkers next year. I should add that the peppers I gave my secretary were doing well until we had a wind storm and a big tree crashed on top of her garden.
What mystery, ancient or modern, would you like to solve?
I have never been able to do math in my head. Husband is far better at it, but last week he failed at basic math hilariously while using a calculator.
Husband found some lovely vegetables at an Adventist farm stand. (Adventists are supposed to be vegetarian, but I find it humorous that some of our most prominent local Adventists are big time cattle ranchers.) We decided to make German refrigerator pickles with them. The recipe called for four quarts of brine and one cauliflower, one carrot, twelve pearl onions, two cucumbers, and two bell peppers. It all had to sit in the brine in a steel pot in the refrigerator for a week.
We have a refrigerator in the basement just for this purpose, but we are always concerned about the weight on the shelves. Husband calculated the weight of everything and worriedly told me that we couldn’t possibly put the brine pot in the fridge because it weighed 84 pounds.
Well, that just didn’t make sense to me, and after some sturm und drang, Husband recalculated and determined it all weighed 8 pounds. The veggies are brining away in the pot in the fridge. Now I can finally tease him about his math skills.
How are your Math skills? What kinds of Math are easiest for you? When have you miscalculated?