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Monday, November 26, 2012

Off kilter

We're looking at some strange conditions here -- many trees refusing to turn color, let alone shed leaves. Bees flying, hummingbirds wintering over, mosquitoes everywhere, and many annuals and perennials sprouting or blooming as if it were spring. The highs here at this time of year should range 25 to 60F and we're within that range -- but more or less stuck between 50 and 59, at the high end. Not many records, but it's adding to the excess degree days that throw life on the planet farther and farther off-kilter. 

I don't remember a year with no killing frost before December. Not quite sure what to do in the garden, and I'm sure many others are scratching their heads as well. So I go ahead with the indoor projects I'd lined up for those cold days we didn't get.

This is the accumulated ham, bacon, turkey fats and drippings from assorted family offerings over the last week, mixed with some apple juice used to blend down some garlic, onions and spices. After it solidifies here in the freezer, the cubes will be dumped into bags and used in winter recipes involving beans, split peas, lentils, soups, rice, etc. A good way to keep off the stuff except in small quantities over time.

I keep the smaller pint and half pint Mason jars handy as they are emptied and whenever I have seven, I look around for what might go in them. Nothing growing this time of year, not even the mysteriously lingering tomatoes, has enough acid for water bath canning, but pickling is an option till we can find a gasket for the pressure canner.

We have a surplus on hand of root vegetables from the CSA our son belongs to, along with some Brussels sprouts. I've cubed all these -- beets, turnips and carrots mostly -- steamed them, then jarred them up and poured apple cider vinegar with honey, sea salt and spices (home grown and dehydrated) over them, with a little grape oil, and set the lot on the wood stove. The stove has to be managed with smallwood on these relatively warm days and so doesn't get hot enough to seal the lids safely, but after it has done its best I'll move the canner to the range to finish quickly.

Sorry about the blurred shot, but you can see the beets have made the whole "pickled vegetables" thing quite attractive. I had the leftovers with rice and I think it's a success.


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