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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stitchin' and britchin'

It's 101F out and so I am hiding in the house, slicing tomatoes and apples and zucchini for the dehydrator, and when I get tired of that activity, find that, as the Hutterites used to tell me, "a change is as good as a rest."

I did cut up some green beans a couple of weeks ago and put them in the dehydrator. Beloved asked if they were "leather britches" and I said, "no, those are leather short shorts."

But the other crops are beginning to demand more space in the various drying devices scattered around, so I have resorted to a more traditional treatment for the beans.

Here we have fifteen pound test fishing line threaded onto a curved canvas needle. The line is only doubled back for a few inches, and the single strand will be pulled through a beanpod, then another, and so on, with a short stick tied onto the other end of the three to four feet of line as a "beanstop."

I usually put the needle through the first bean in the pod down from the stem, as this seems to keep the line from pulling out and losing any beanpods as I work.

The steel bowl is for the beans to rest in as the string of leather britches builds, so they don't drag on the floor.

After the string is all done, I pull the line out of the needle, stick the needle point into a cork for safekeeping, and tie a loop in the end of the line for hanging. Until the beanpods dry out, they won't hang in the house where it is 75F at present, but in the potting shed/greenhouse, where it is 104F at the moment.

We could speed drying a bit by cutting the ends off the beanpods, but I'm feeling a bit lazy in the heat. In a few days I should come back to them and do this.

In the winter, we can take down a string, cut the stick off, slide all the beanpods off the line into a heap, perhaps in the same steel bowl, and then cut them up into leather short-shorts.

After that it's into the crockpot with them, overnight, in water, salt and pepper and garlic or onions or both, and olive oil for vegetarian company, or perhaps with some chicken stock for carnies. Traditionally served with ham or at least cooked up with a good ham bone but we seldom have any on hand, as we are wary of CAFO meat and the ethically/organically raised local alternatives, unless home grown, can be expensive.

We let them get good and done, just as we would with dry beans (for obvious reasons) before throwing in other veggies or tomato sauce, and so on. Not really as good as frozen, to our mind, but the freezer is full and they are better than canned -- we think.

Things have cooled off a bit; we are going to set up the telescope and count the moons of Jupiter. G'night all.

risa b


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