Thursday, September 24, 2009

Harvest Time

I've hardly blogged about all the food we've put up for winter, except to lament that there aren't more hours in a day, so I thought I'd share (read: brag) about a few favorite little goodies that we'll be cracking open come January or so.

From summer 09

First up, we've got the quadruple-batch peach salsa. I spent one lovely August day chopping peaches, onions, and peppers into tiny pieces, which took a really long time. But I was left with eleven lovely, lovely pint jars of peach salsa:

From summer 09

Nearly one a month until the peaches come around again! Also, although you probably cannot see it, the jar on the left in front reads 'Canadian Mason' - it's one of a few pint jars I have that my Mom used to use for her canning. When I was a kid, that jar probably held canned cherries, one of the best desserts ever invented. I just love using the same jars that my Mom used, I don't know why. Maybe because it gives me a sense of history, of preparing for winter in the same way that my mother, and hers before, did. I know, what kind of weirdo gets all mushy over a glass jar? ... But I still do.

I think I am kind of weird for the souvenirs I choose as well. Most people going through wine country, as my family and I did this past weekend, might get a bottle of wine, right? Or, perhaps, a t-shirt from Niagara Falls? Nope, not me.

From fall 2009

I got grapes! Ben and I actually came this close to an argument, because I insisted on stopping for grapes and, as we were barely into a ten-hour drive, hubby thought that our time could be used more wisely. Y'know, like to drive the heck home? But fortunately, we found a farm stand at a rest area, which ground the spousal sniping to a standstill. And, I got to make real, yummy, amazing grape jelly:

From fall 2009

It is so darned good. Also, I found that grape juice that is prepared to become grape jelly (as in, the mashed grapes are mixed with a small amount of water, simmered for ten minutes, then put into cheesecloth and hung up over a pot to drain) makes excellent grape juice concentrate. I mixed the half-cup or so that I had left over with some sugar and about three cups of water, and it was all gone by dinnertime. The kids love drinking juice from 'wine grapes,' and eating the few leftover grapes was the icing on their cake.


Vicki said...

I'm very impressed with the canning! My mom use to do it all the time yet it seems so foreign and such a skill to me. Strange how I could grow up in a house where popping the wax off the jelly was the norm but still not recall how to make it...(and I did participate!)

As for your 'fear' for lack of a better word... I SO agree with you, they think they know,oh, so much better...

Well, we are going on four years of 'unschooling' and I've come to believe that my kids and I know the best.

My son, the youngest, lead our journey into unschooling. This 'school year' if he was in real school, he would have entered 6th grade. After four years of no curriculum, and cousins who brag, he was thinking he was too dumb to return to school.

Due to the self doubt, I talked him into signing up for virtual school. He choose his favorite two subjects; Math and Science.

I just want to say, that it didn't take long for him to change his opinion about his education.

He no longer feels 'dumb'. Now he feels that if that is all the education system expects out of an eleven year old, then the system is dumb.

He makes me so happy we unschool!

They may THINK they know it all but the proof is in the 'product' and from I've observed, homeschoolers do a MUCH better job at educating their children.

Hang in there and don't let the government (local, state nor federal) tell you how it should be. Any mom who loves her child will ALWAYS surpass their mandates and opinions and do a far better job on far less funding. figure out how we can get paid........ =)

The Stone Age Techie said...

Thanks, Vicki :-)

Yes, it'd be nice to get paid, wouldn't it? But, as my Dad used to say, 'It's okay, Karen, you can support us in our retirement.'

Dave said...

Wow - canning too? Amazingly cool - we make our own jam but thats about it. Your salsa looks amazing!!

Love Vicki's comments here too - 'unschooling' - is that the term? haha, I'm so out of touch with social norms. I'd maybe call it 'retooling'.

I don't know, but with 5 kids, we have a bit of a farm mentality even in this age of technology in which we make a nice income from home. We didn't have kids to have a Petri dish experiment or because we didn't have a better hobby - we had them to build a family - a loving interdependent family with common/shared goals and values. So we teach our kids what they need to know to further our family's cause - allowing for individuality of course - but family/team first. It is unthinkable to me to let somebody else raise or teach our kids. I think of ourselves as modern day Ingalls. That like a stone-age techie right? haha

Society has forgotten how to survive. I have a cut! Call 911. I'm hungry! Call Dominos.

Too much of organized schooling is centered around teaching kids many things they will NEVER use and not around teaching them social, problem solving or survial skills. If you can pass a calculus exam but don't have the confidence to look people in the eyes or you need your mom to do laundry, that’s ok with society.

So kudos to canning. We're behind you on that front as our business has grown crazy-like this year (Dominoes loves us in busy cycles!), but we do aim to plant tomatoes and assorted vegetables soon - is that a good start? :)

topsytechie said...

My brain is trying to wrap around peach salsa. I have seriously never heard of that! How do you eat it? What do you serve it with? Enquiring minds must know...

The Stone Age Techie said...

Dave - You are so right - and, I cannot think of a better start than planting some veggies :-)

Topsy - Peach salsa is SO good! We have it with chips, as a topping for pork chops or chicken, a dollop instead of tomato salsa in black bean soup... anywhere you'd use regular salsa, you can use peach salsa. Get to your nearest farm stand, pick up some peaches, and then use this recipe: It is the one I used, although I have made a few changes (hotter peppers, extremely small pieces instead of just 'chopped,' cider vinegar sometimes). Or, email me, and I will send you a jar :-)

Dana @ Our Sunny Side said...

I'm completely impressed! The kids and I have been reading The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls. All the work they did to prepare for winter was amazing. And now here you are with your beautiful peach salsa and yummy looking grape jelly! I'm seriously thinking I need to learn to can! I've never tried peach salsa but it looks incredible!

Rana said...

Some of the best fruits and vegetables used to come when my Nana would can them. My favorite was the peaches and pears. I wish I had paid attention when she was doing this. My mom didn't like to do it so I never learned from her. Now I need to find someone who can teach me. Your peach salsa looks wonderful.

The Stone Age Techie said...

Dana - I LOVE Laura Ingalls Wilder! I read Farmer Boy to Luke a few years ago, and we still talk about some of the ways they'd prepare for winter, and how certain foods would herald certain seasons.

Rana - all I remember from my Mom's canning days were that the kitchen was HOT... when I started around the time Owen was born, it was because I remembered the delicious canned goods my mother used to make and wanted those, no matter how hot my kitchen became. And to my surprise, it really wasn't as bad as I had remembered.

I'd encourage you both to give it a try! My favorite book on the subject is 'Preserving the Harvest' by Carol W. Costenbader, although most of the recipes I use are either off the web or tried-and-true family recipes. For jams and jellies, I follow the directions in the box of fruit pectin.


Magic and Mayhem said...

Ooh, another mama who did the grape thing! Isn't it fun? And the jelly tastes so much better than grape jelly from the store! I love canning and wish I'd taken it up years ago.

The peach salsa sounds very intriguing!

The Stone Age Techie said...

Hi Alicia, I feel the same way about canning - it is so much more fun than I thought it would be, and so very, very worth it.
And, the peach salsa really is amazing!