Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Yay for green beans! They are one of the plants that are doing the best this year in our garden. We have a row of bush beans as well as two rows of pole beans. This was our first year to grow pole beans, and I have found that I much rather prefer them. The beans stay cleaner than the bush beans since most of them are up off the ground hanging from the trellis. Clean beans translates into less work for me once I get them into the kitchen. And I rather like less work right now.
I usually freeze our green beans. Canning them pretty much cooks all the nutrition right out of them (which is why we eat our veggies) although I do like the taste of soft, salty canned beans. Also, freezing them takes less time than canning since canned green beans must be pressure canned.
This year in addition to freezing, I thought I would try some dilly beans. Yesterday, I made eight pints of garlicky dilly beans. From the smell of the brine, I think I'm going to love them. Very garlicky, very dilly, very vinegary. Yum. We love dill pickles, and I haven't been able to make any of those since our cucumbers flopped, so dill green beans will have to fill in that culinary gap for us. Oh, and dilly beans do not require pressure canning. They just require the regular ole' boiling water bath since they have such a high acidic content from the vinegar. I like that.
I used this recipe on this website. It's very easy to follow. If you've never canned anything before, you should go read this general article on canning first. The process of canning is pretty much the same from one type of food to the next so once you do it a few times, I imagine that you will probably feel pretty comfortable and confident. I started with this book (an older edition) way back twelve years ago when I started canning and found it to be simple yet informative enough to begin to feel confident when canning.
Right now, the dilly beans are waiting out their 24 hour "don't-touch-me" time period. Then they will be labeled and moved to the shelves of our can cellar. That's my favorite part. Lining the cellar shelves.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I've been a bit short on words lately. Busyness tends to do that to me. It pushes my mute button. I go into a sort of robotic routine, and it becomes difficult to piece together any sort of meaningful words. Oh, they're there, in my mind, and they mostly come to me in the shower when I don't have paper, pen, or keyboard to record them. (Why do my greatest thoughts come to me while in the midst of a shower? I have realized that it is probably because that is the only time I am by myself and in relative quiet. I may need to invest in some of those bath markers for children so I can jot down notes.)
Our garden has been a bit of a flop this year. Perhaps it's from the extreme amount of rain and the chilly fall-like days we've had all summer. We lost all of our squash and eggplant. The zucchini and cucumber harvest was pitiful. In fact, I find myself planning a trip to the farmer's market just so I can have produce to make pickles and jam. I am very thankful for the green beans and the tomatoes which should be ready in another week or so. That's how it is with raising your own food. There are good years that produce more than enough. And then there are years when the harvest is smaller and not sufficient. But we do what we can, and fill in the gaps with what we can find from other local farmers.
I can't help but just speak a few words regarding the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. Yesterday, I found myself angered after reading this blog post on the Matt Walsh blog. I'm admittedly not a devoted Matt Walsh reader, but I have read some of his articles in the past and found myself agreeing with him. But it both saddened and angered me to read his post regarding depression and suicide. I found his article to be extremely insensitive and misinformed. I know the dark depths of depression. I know what it feels like to feel like there is absolutely no hope.
When I am experiencing a depressed episode, I can't think straight. I'm not myself at all. I'm totally disconnected from all that is around me. And it's not because I want to be. Goodness, how I cry with all of my mental energy for deliverance! It's an uncontrollable mental prison that shackles my mind and renders it helpless. It's not a choice. It's not situational. It's unpredictable and vicious.
And that was why I found Matt Walsh's article so incredibly insulting. I won't deny that there is a spiritual component to depression. There is a spiritual component to everything. But I would never choose depression. I would never choose suicidal thoughts. I would never choose darkness and oppression.
So that's where I found him to be wrong and insensitive. When I heard about Robin William's suicide, I felt empathy. And I felt a heart ache that only those who have suffered with clinical depression could have.
And, yes, I am soooo thankful that I have Jesus. And, yes, without Him and His hand on me, it's hard to tell where I would be right now. Would I even be here?
So, I beg the church... Don't discriminate. Don't speak harsh words. Don't pass your judgments. Don't act in a haughty manner, thinking you know everything about everything because you have a degree or read the Bible everyday.
Because that only pushes those of us that suffer with depression into a deeper anguish.
I'm open about my dealings with mental illness because I decided several years ago that it is a vehicle that God has given me to reach out to others. I didn't choose the illness, but I do choose to surrender it and my life to my Father and let Him use it for His glory.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Ah, Monday. And here you roll around once again. (I may be a bit of a nerd, but I actually enjoy Mondays, for the most part. I see Mondays as a fresh start.)
Our big plans for the weekend fell through the cracks as we all were feeling a bit ill. Whatever this virus is, it surely is one tough little bugger that enjoys setting up long-term residence. So we're still drinking lots of hot tea, taking mega-doses of Vitamin C, and peppering many moments of rest throughout our days. It's a bit frustrating to feel sub-par when I have so many things to do out in the garden and here in the kitchen as well. However, I have learned that my body needs rest when it is sick. Rest is essential to being well again. And so I rest.
In the midst of all of that rest, my shop inventory is growing. For whatever reason, I am feeling mighty focused and motivated with my yarn and hook (or needles.) Even though my body requires more idleness, my hands do not, which translates into many completed projects. I made this Cade Cap from The Velvet Acorn last week. My first one is pictured above, and I loved the pattern so much that I went on to make three more to sell. Speaking of selling, my Etsy shop is still in need of a big update, but right now my focus is on stocking up for the festival I'll be attending in September.
That picture up there of my wonderful husband in the kitchen? Yes, well, it is rare that Brad cooks. That's pretty much my job here in our home. However, when I'm not feeling well, he always willingly picks up and pitches in. He made us dinner last night, and it was a delicious dinner at that. When we sat down to eat, he brought to our attention that every single thing on our plates was raised or grown by us. That amazes me. And thrills me. We were sustained last evening because of our hard work and the blessings God has given us through our plants and animals.
Not only did Brad help with the meal-making over the weekend, but he also put a big dent in the dirty laundry. I just have to give him kudos for his willingness to serve his family even above and beyond how he usually serves us. I feel very blessed to have a husband like him. Not that he's perfect. Ha, neither of us are perfect, but we are the perfect compliment to one another.
Oh, and during one of my short-lived energy bursts on Saturday, I went out to the gardens and picked peppers, broccoli, and cabbage. I started to ferment three large jars of cabbage. I added a bit of dill to each jar, and put some jalapenos and banana peppers into two of the jars. I really do love the taste of fermented food. And you add the health benefits? It's definitely a wonderful way to preserve food. Of course, a jar of fermented food is not going to be able to sit on the shelf for several years, but, honestly, we always go through the fermented food quickly around here. Another benefit of fermenting is that the process is much easier than canning. Yep, it is. You should try it. If you're interested in fermenting cabbage, I used this tutorial.
It's a very foggy morning. And chilly. Fifty-six degrees when I woke up. Such strange weather for August. But the cooler temps will be appreciated today since I will spending the day in the kitchen. There are bags of broccoli that need blanched and frozen and peppers that need canned or frozen. It will be a busy day.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I most certainly don't want to make this a whining session, but last night I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and a bit discouraged. I was upset that I was sick with another sinus infection, that Ian was feeling so ill, and that what (in my mind) should be a hot and humid July (it is summer, after all) really felt like a cool day in October requiring jeans and sweaters. (Hey, I look forward to our three months of hot weather here in the northeast.) And then I was frustrated that we didn't have water again; that we were probably going to have to dump a bunch of money into a new water pump (we seem to average one pump every two summers.)
And then the sun started to shine just as it was beginning it's deep descent down to the horizon. Any photographer knows that this is the perfect time for photos, the light just right at this angle. So I grabbed my camera and set out to view gratitude through the lens.
I will say that it was quite an effective exercise in thankfulness. I was reminded of all of the beauty and wonder that surround us out here in the country. I felt peace as I sat in the pasture with my alpacas, listening to them hum and munch on the grass. The chickens pecking at my nail-polished toes made me laugh (how could I not, those silly hens.) Picking up the day's eggs filled me with wonder and awe and thankfulness for this small provision of sustenance.
I felt so incredibly grateful for all of the homegrown vegetables and herbs we have growing in our backyard, and so thankful for the plentiful land that we have to grow it all on. The surprise sunflowers that popped up in our landscaping (seeds left over from the winter's bird feed) really made me smile, and I won't dare tear those out even though their rooting place is a bit random.
I was thankful for a hard-working husband who also happens to be very handy at many things. I was thankful for my dad, brother-in-law and a neighbor who came to help pull our 215-feet-deep pump up out of the earth. I was thankful for God's provision of money to cover the expenses (a provision that came unexpectedly and surprisingly.)
I felt much more at peace when I finished the little gratitude photo shoot. Focusing on blessings and the beauty right there around me gave me such peace and assurance in the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father. I was, once again, reminded of the importance of gratitude in every day life. There are always blessings. Sometimes it just takes an intentional heart and eye to see them.