"There are four kinds of wisdom ... giving, kind speech, beneficial deeds, and cooperation."

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

I didn't grow the shredded cheddar

The smoke plume has been rolling in and out daily, but today it's hanging on grimly, mostly at about 3000 feet, for which I suppose we should be grateful, because it's not exactly nice down here where we are. AQI was 215 earlier at our location and it looks like it's around 176 now. Small favors. 

This smoke is coming mostly, I think, from the Gales Fire and the Chaos Fire. The Chaos Fire has reached the famous Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak to our southeast. I hear the Oregon National Guard has been wrapping the historic buildings there with foil and such for structure protection. These fires are over a month old and every day they find new fuels to expand into. It's a little unnerving as they are only a little over twenty miles away from me, as the crow flies.

From CalTopo

From PurpleAir

Here's the sun from when the AQI was 215.

 Sometimes Jasper Mountain is visible across the river and sometimes it is not.

The garden is very, very dry, no matter how much of our tiny well I throw at it. It's also full of flea beetles. They show up in late August after the aphids slow down and are here right on schedule. Beloved pulls up any kale that has about succumbed to the bugs and tosses it into the poultry yards, where it is greeted with joy. Dust flies as the birds tuck in to the greens with the extra protein. They have eaten all their grass once again this year.

We're still getting lots of summer crops, even so.

There are plenty of cucumbers and onions. I've cured and brought in all the spaghetti squash, and have continued to make apple butter and tomato sauce.

I wear an N95 mask and try not to stay out too long. 

This year, as has never happened before, I've run out of canning jars before cidering season, but there are plenty of unopened jars from last year, so it's no biggie. I've considered letting folks from around here pick the rest of the apples, but with Delta at its peak, I'd just as well stay isolated. Our hospitals have been run ragged.

Not that dropped apples go to waste; they help feed the soil organisms and mycorrhizae underneath the trees, and the mycorrhizae help feed and water the trees. But I'll take many for the chickens. 

We're about ready to shrink and eventually give up the flocks, but not today.

I'm not up for stoop labor this year, but I use a sharp little sickle blade on a long handle to pick up downed apples and pears. Stab, rap against basket to let the apple fall in, repeat. It's a soothing rhythm.

The hens do not favor anything with the skin whole, so I cut up the fruit before presentation. Excess tomatoes, cukes and zucchinis get the same treatment. They will eat it all, but they want to start with open fruit.

We cup up winter squash for them during the fall, winter, and early spring, but those we soften by boiling a bit in a stock pot on the wood stove. So it's a wood stove thing, which we can't start doing yet as fire season is on for the foreseeable future. In fact, it's supposed to get to 91F today, but that won't happen with this thick layer of smoke.

As I am mostly confined to indoor activity at the moment, my thoughts easily turn to the kitchen.

It's a time of year when I can indeed do fall things but get to continue with summer things. I'm still bringing in a gleaned baby zucchini, a missed potato, a stalk of Fordhook giant chard, a ripe Rugers tomato, and making a fantastic all-homegrown lunch. Well, almost. I didn't grow the shredded cheddar.

Slice the potato, chard stem, and zuke thinly and steam for five minutes in the rice cooker, with a clove of garlic in the steam water. Dice up the chard greens and a tomato and have them ready when you remove the steamer basket from the rice cooker. Season all to taste and combine in a bowl. Add shredded cheddar and cover bowl with a lid for three to five minutes. The greens will wilt to a dark green and the cheese will melt. Serve. Eat while watching, through the window, the wildfire smoke slowly dissipate.

In adversity, there is always found something that gladdens the mind; in prosperity, one is liable to meet with disappointments. -- Hung Ying-Ming, Discourses With Vegetable Roots. Tr. Yaichiro Isobe

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