Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Summer Kitchen

 One of the unexpected perks we discovered once I finally got to see our “new” home was the way the original garage and the newer garage were joined.  The wall between the two structures was not removed.  The newer larger garage would obviously be used for its intended purpose, and will house Vern, our 1948 Ford 8N tractor (more on him another time.) 
The small original garage then became an easy choice for the summer kitchen.  I had a makeshift set-up in the shop at the old place, but did a lot of going back and forth between the house and shop.  This gets to be the real deal!  I do a tremendous amount of food preservation, soap making, and candle dipping, as well as daily cooking.  The old saying (since we are in the vintage era here) “Make hay while the sun shines,” holds true for people food as well as hay for stock. Canning season is typically during the hottest months of the year.  It is so nice to be able to have the stove going and not heat up the house.  Or dehydrators going.  Or the mess corn makes.  Or…
(The "before" shot)
In case you aren’t picking up on it, I am over the moon excited!
Here, let me show you~

It has two windows both of which are broken.  The one over the sink was missing a large shard and had a scrap of cardboard propped over it, not even secured, just kinda sitting there - Classy I know.  MrLB was walking out behind the building to check the roof (which leaked but is now fixed) and noticed the shard on the ground.  Without saying anything, he got gasket maker and applied it to the edges of the shard and put it back in place.  I was cleaning inside when he came in and took the cardboard from the window and said, “There.”  I was amazed.  He’s just so sweet.

I still have my old pantry shelves which now house canning pots and empty jars.  I might change things up a bit as I use it and get the space figured out, but am just smitten with it all at the moment.  
I have the igloo set up by the sink for water since there’s no water to the building.  There is a large bucket under the drain of the old concrete sink to catch the water which will work well so I can water plants with it.  
Next is the hutch I recently acquired and cleaned up.  It will house pretty much what it did in the mountain house other than my herbs and spices.  My bowls aren’t out here yet as there was a bit of a mouse problem so we had to get that under control before I store things like that out here.
I haven't seen any "evidence" of the little rascals for nearly a month now.
I'm sure it will be on-going, but at least now maybe we can have a bit better control over the situation. 
Next is the harvest table.  I had this at the old place too, but honestly, it was usually covered with junk.  It’s an old library table about 7 feet long, and I love it!  It is a perfect height for me.  I am rather vertically challenged :-)  Standard kitchen counters are high for me and when working at them all day, my neck and shoulders get tired/sore.  It’s right next to the stove so I can move heavy canning pots to and from or have a handy work surface when dipping candles, etc. The cauldron fits under it which makes use of that space as well.
A couple other tidbits are the old yellow table and chairs so we can sit to shell peas or string beans or whatever the task at hand is (a cup of tea?)  The cushions actually go to our outdoor furniture, but rather than figuring out just where to store them for winter, I just put them on the chairs. 

And at the moment, I have the clothes line set up in here though it's easy to move outside if I want to.  We get more wind here which sounds like it would be great for drying clothes, but it's often dusty as well so this works out well.
  I've just brought the clothes trees out and will cover them, but
that would be unsightly for the photo.
The shelves will go in the house eventually, but for now they are just sitting there reminding me that I have more to do.
And in this corner which is actually a bit embarrassing at the moment, is where I will put my potting/gardening bench - against the same wall as the freezers.
The fabric on the hutch.
Last but not least, is the guard bunny.  Hucklebunny Hideaway is right out the door so she can be sure to help “recycle” any veggie leaves or goodies that become available.
The funny thing about all this is that when we figured out this space would be the summer kitchen, I hopped online for ideas on how to set it up.  If you do a search for “Summer Kitchen,” you will either see the Hollywood pool-party version or a fireplace in a historical cabin - no happy in between for practical use.  I do realize we are not exactly main stream in our ways, but I would have thought there would be a few.  I realize it looks rather rudimentary, but I assure you it all gets scrubbed before food is processed.  I would love to know if any of you have a summer kitchen or if you set up a temporary one for canning 
(or other specific tasks.)  
I've been busy amending soil that doesn't appear to have seen a spade
 for a decade or more.
Nearly everything is planted.  There are a few more things to get in the ground tomorrow then it will just be whatever progressive planting I decide upon.
I pulled out first radishes today so it won't be long, and I will be putting this space through a real workout.

Hope you are enjoying spring.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Canning Chips

Yes, that says "Canning Chips."
Here, let me explain~
We don't eat very many chips, but
when we do, they are part of a meal rather than a snack item.
They are nice with taco soup or to have nachos on occasion.
There is a small local company that makes good corn chips that we like,
but there are only a few places to get them.
So when I'm able to make it to one of the stores that carries them,
I get a couple bags and can them.
Simply use wide mouth jars and put as many chips in as possible.
Then I use the vacuum attachment to the seal-a-meal to lid them.
You could also Hot-oven Can them which is what I did 
until I got the vacuum attachment.
One bag makes 4-5 quart jars depending upon how many you eat 
during the canning process. :-)
Then they can go in the pantry and are ready when you need them.
For the two of us, we use 1 quart jar at a time.
If you have a family, it would be more of course.
The longest I've ever stored them is about a year, and 
they were still fresh and tasty.
As is the case when canning any dry-good,
it's important that your jars and lids are clean and completely dry.

Just a note, many of the items in my pantry have rims on them.
When we moved, I put rims on most of the jars just as an extra precaution.
I didn't want lids to pop if the jar was jostled just right.
I have plenty of rims so am just removing them as I use the food.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Place to Keep Quotes

The other evening as I was browsing through blog posts,
I meandered over to see what Bonnie K at
I noticed a quote in her sidebar that caught my eye.
Then I sat and read each one.
I thought she needs a book like mine.
I have this darling little book that a friend made for me.
It's only about 2" X 3.5". 
When she gave it to me, I wondered what I would do with it.
An answer appeared within a week 
when I read a quote I liked.
I have a punch bowl on our coffee table in the living room.
It has little books in it that I change with the seasons.
I've tried removing the punch bowl and going with something else,
but I get in trouble.
There are a few folks who visit who evidently like the punch bowl.
So in the punch bowl I keep my little quote book.
Every so often when I read a quote that resonates,
I write it in the little book.
Since I'm not allowed to get rid of the punch bowl,
folks will have to fight over it when my time is through.
If you have a favorite quote, let me know.
Evidently, I'm not the only one who likes them.

A side note~ when we were without internet for nearly a month,
I did hop on another computer and looked at the blog.
Only about half - two thirds of the blogs I follow appear on the blog reading list.
I don't know why, if it's something I did or if it's blogger.
So even if you don't see your blog on the list, I may still be a follower.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Up the Mountain

This last weekend, we had our taxes done (blek!) 
then headed up the mountain to check on the place, 
maybe get a little more work done, and fill our water jugs.
We prefer fresh mountain well water to filtered irrigation water so will haul drinking water as long as we can.
Yes that is a car buried in snow!

We knew there had been significant snowfall 
as we’ve had plenty down here in the low land.
We ended up having to just pull out where our drive is and walk to the house.
Walking was a bit of a challenge.  
The snow came up over our knees as we took each step.
I’m short so nearly froze my bottom off :-)
We built roaring fires in the house and shop.  
There is electric heat on just enough to keep the pipes from freezing, but a fire lasts a while and helps just that much with the power bill for up there.
We didn’t get any work done in the house, because we were shoveling.
I still have two chickens up there that run free. 
They refuse to stay cooped so I quit fighting with them.  
They have a huge self feeder full of food and a heated water dish 
so are really fine.
We checked them out when we arrived.
They wouldn’t leave the lean to so I put their feed under there 
and ran an extension cord for their water dish.
We (mostly MrLB while I filled water jugs) shoveled the snow off the lean to portion of the shop.
It’s not flimsy but it tends to melt off the shop 
and slides down and accumulates on the lean to.
The last thing we need is for it to cave in on the wood and tractor.
By the time we left, we were chilly, our pant legs were soaked, 
and we’d had a decent workout.
The same plow driver is “taking care of” the road - meaning the dufus drives both directions down the middle of the road instead of on his own side to create the two lanes it should be.
There are a couple things I miss about living up there,
but this weekend I was ever grateful we live where we do 
and are on the path we’re on-
even if we don’t know where it ends.