This summer was a hard one for tomatoes, but everyone has had a bumper crop of peppers. A co worker gives me all of his.
These are sweet bananas. The brown seeded ones have been in the fridge awhile. Rather than throw them into the compost I decided to dry them. I had great success with the sweet bell peppers I diced so these were cut into rings by my trusty helper.
I rescued this dehydrater from a friend's basement. It was going to be thrown away and I can't stand that!
Next are the jalapenos. They will be dried this evening.
I let the peppers swim while the water boils for their bath. The blanching kills all the micro organisms that will cause mold. Then they get sliced.
They are waiting in the fridge for me to get home and start drying them!
I've also started some sourdough with Rose over at Greening The Rose. My conversion from metric didn't look like her batter, but I got up this morning to (drumrollllllllll please...........) BUBBLES!
The little black dots are bubbles. I figured the starter was hungry and I couldn't remember if I fed it yesterday so I fed it again. This is what it looks like now.
Paste. But I have high hopes there will be bubbles this evening when I get home! This evening I plan on racking some wine, drying peppers and having a quiet night alone. My idea of heaven on earth.
Those of you who have followed for the past year know I have an elderly uncle I dearly love. Well, he isn't able to get around as well as he once did and last winter he was afraid to go outside in the bad weather because he might fall down his steps.
As you can see the steps are slick and steep. I decided to make him some new steps and a deck. So the last time I was home I measured and measured and discussed it with my uncle Frank. He agreed with my plan. I bought the lumber, sawed it to fit in the back of my truck and took a day off work with a helper in tow. Here are some pictures of the drive from my brother's house to my uncle's trailer.
The sun was just rising when we left.
We drove along a ridge and the fog was lovely.
Its nice to see working farms. The farmers were taking in late hay and tobacco and some corn fields were ready to combine.
I was in the right frame of mind when we arrived to start working. Unfortunately, that quickly turned sour when an elderly neighbor man who was a carpenter came over. Just as we began to frame the deck he announced that women couldn't build anything. At that time I thought he was teasing. He wasn't. You see, I was raised in a family where work is work. There was no "women's work" or "men's work". If you were physically able to do it you worked. PERIOD. It went from bad to worse from there. About every hour he would come back and make sexist remarks which I ignored. He had a foul mouth and talked about his private parts as well. Finally, I handed him the saw and put him to work when it became unbearable. In the end the deck got built. He couldn't find fault with it in spite of himself. I thanked him for his help. After all, my aunt informed me, he was good to my uncle. I just don't approve of his attitude toward women and talking nasty in mixed company. I'm no prude, but I do respect my elders.
The shot above shows clearly how dangerous the old steps were. You had to step down to shut the door. We replaced it with standard steps and a 6 x 5 deck.
Nothing fancy, but there is space for two to sit outside, and access to take stuff in and out of the house without carrying it down the steps.
While the old sexist man worried us to death it made me grateful at the same time. I am grateful that I had a father and two brothers that never discouraged me when I built things. They showed me how to do it and helped me and never ridiculed. I had a grandmother that gave me a hammer, nails and an old board to play with when I was a child. I don't remember ever not knowing how to use a hammer. I had a mother that told me to do it again when I tried to quit because I thought I couldn't do something. I am also grateful that I was raised in a family that worked together and enjoyed it. My uncle isn't as agile or fast as he once was, but by golly, he got out there and helped us. I had forgotten just how enjoyable it was to work with him.
I am not a carpenter, but I refuse to decline to work by saying I can't do something. I may not be the best at it, but I will try and I will learn. This may not be the best deck, but as Frank would tell you "it's just fine for me". That, my friends, is what we set out to do.
Never listen to other people who want to tell you what you cannot do. Especially don't listen if they tell you that you cannot do something because of your gender. I couldn't throw hay bales on the wagon when I was a kid so I drove the tractor. I was not excused from working because I was a girl. I stopped the tractor by standing on the clutch with both feet because I was too small to sit in the seat and reach the pedals. I was not excused from working when we cut and housed tobacco. I stacked it on the wagon. I handed it off the wagon. I was a girl but I worked alongside the men doing what I was physically able to do. I really didn't know others weren't raised like that.
Likewise, the men in my family can cook and clean. My father cooked. He could fry a chicken or make candy. He washed dishes. My brothers cook. In fact, one of my brothers is an exceptional cook and both, in my experience, are better cooks than their wives. (God help me if they read this!) They were never told they couldn't cook. They were encouraged to do what had to be done for themselves.
Not all of my projects are successful. Some are learning experiences, never failures. I am so grateful that I was taught from an early age that basic fact. I was never told that. It didn't have to be said. I saw it all around me. It is so much a fabric of who I am I am still shocked when I encounter a sexist old man that tells me I can't do something because I am not a man.
Finally, I found it ironic that the whole while this old man was using foul language about sex acts and dropping "f bombs" right and left me, my helper, and my aunt and uncle were calling him Mr. Hobbs. I truly believe that once a child is taught to respect their elders it cannot be unlearned.
I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be a member of a hard working, positive and honest family.
Although my little okra patch in the yard has quit producing since Fall is upon us, the dogs still seem to enjoy it.
Peabody, in particular, is partial to it.
Sometimes he lies there in his own little okra forest.
Then he will forage for a discarded okra pod. I usually just toss them on the ground when they get too big and tough to eat. Okra grows very quickly. Sometimes an inch per day!
First he crushes the pod and eats all the seeds. Okra is very fibrous and if it is fresh it has a (excuse me) snotty gelatinous liquid inside. This is why most people don't like it. They, obviously, don't know how to cook it. Frying it or adding some vinegar to the stew transforms the offensive slime into a thickener. Today Peabody got an old pod but he still enjoyed it.
You talkin' 'bout me?
Yes I am. I am telling the world how you use okra for dental floss!
After crushing the pod and eating the contents Peabody starts at the tip and begins to shred the pod into its fibers.
He pulls it through his teeth from one end to the other! It must feel good to his gums.
I snapped this shot (above) while he left to chase Uno who had a toy. Then after much chewing and pulling it looks like this:
Uno traded his toy for a go at it.
If you have ever had an old dog you will know they teach the pups!
Hey! I want the toy and the okra!!
At the end the okra pods look like this:
How is that for getting the optimal use out of okra? Eventually it will be composted but there is still a couple of half hearted flossings left!!
Now that my dining room table has newer fermentation projects bubbling I decided to taste the Gundru.
Around the first of September I mashed kale leaves and stuffed them into a jar and covered them with water. Then I left the jar on the front porch where it would get the afternoon sun. In Kentucky the nights can be cool dipping down into the high 50's or low 60's and the days approach 80 degrees. Apparently, Gundru likes this weather because after a couple of days it oozed and started fermenting.
At one point I had worried about the air bubbles in the jar. Oxygen is wine's enemy. Pickling usually uses a brine at the least and/or vinegar. Introducing air can cause vegetables to rot. That is why you keep pickles submerged in the brine.
These new gallons of wine would quickly turn to vinegar if I took the airlocks off. You can see the yeast eating the sugar causing the juice to become cloudy.
While Gundru's new companion ages on the table I decided to pop the top. When I opened it the Gundru started fizzing and this dark green juice bubbled over onto the counter. I pulled a big pinch out and gave it a sniff. It had a distinctive sour, aged, fermented aroma. The first taste was very chewy with a strong sour kale flavor. I rinsed the next bite and the sourness was lessened. The juice definitely has character! However, there is no hint of salt or vinegar. The sour is total fermentation due to the wild yeasts.
I decided to have some with my supper of rice and vegetables. After all, the Tibetans use this to add flavor to their bland diet that consists of lots and lots of rice. Like most pickles they are meant to be a condiment and not the main dish.
Next I will add some Gundru to soup. I think the distinctive fermented sourness will be a very nice addition to a simple soup of vegetables with a delicate broth. Or add it like you might use soy sauce. I think chopping a couple of tablespoons fine and adding it to a stir fry of chicken would be delightful. We shall see!
If you have excess kale and some free countertop space this winter try some!
I'm in a fermenting mood. I finally got around to actually getting my own copy of "Wild Fermentation" and getting all the ingredients together to make kim chee.
I chopped up some carrots and napa. You can add turnips, radishes and probably whatever else you like. I let it soak in brine overnight then the next afternoon I started with the real ingredients that make kim chee so good!
The ginger jammed up my little grater so I decided to use the larger one as well. I trimmed the "beard" with scissors when necessary. I hate those little strings!
Next up are onions, peppers and garlic.
Do you see the gun dru or whatever that fermented kale is called lurking in the background? I'm going to taste it soon.
Mmmmm garlic. The house smelled great with the ginger and garlic.
Everything is chopped and ready to go.
Into the bucket to mix it goes!
The napa and carrots were a bit salty, but I decided to leave them and I can always rinse the kim chee before I eat it or dilute it later.
I tamped the kim chee down forcing the brine to the top. This is so simple I can't imagine why I haven't done it before. Its as easy as pickles. After reading how healthy the little microrganisms are for you I'm excited to start eating it. I will have a happy digestive system for sure.
I didn't make this batch very spicy. I figured I could add peppers to it as needed.
In one week the kim chee will be ready to move to the fridge where it will keep indefinitely. I will take the pint jar to work.
The wine is fermenting slowly, the kale is ready, kim chee will be ready in a week, I thought I would take all the leftover squashes, green tomatoes, onions and add an eggplant, basil and maybe some cabbage and make a mixed pickle bucket. How I wish I had my mother's crocks! They are most likely sitting in my sister in law's house as decorations.
The weather is cooling off here and it will be nice to have some homemade pickled vegetables this winter.
For those of you whose blog I stop by blogger hasn't saved my messages lately. I have been busy so remember I'm still here! I am just not online as much as usual. I have 3 projects in the works, one at work, and two personal. I hope to blog about the latter two in a week or so.