Tomato Wealth

The weather seems to be transitioning into autumn. We are enjoying slightly cooler days and even warm days have an underlying coolness to them. Looking closely, we can see a blush of autumn color on a few of the trees. Autumn is coming.

I continue to harvest my herbs every couple of days. I dry most of them in my dehydrator and then put them in jars for winter use. The borage, lavender, and chamomile flowers I put in small racks hanging at one of the kitchen windows.

EJ has been bringing in cucumbers from his garden, which I turn into Kimchi, a very spicey Korean dish. My brother married a Korean woman years ago when he was stationed in her country, and she used to make it for us when she and my brother visited our parents. At first, I thought it was much, much too hot, but I developed a taste for it. Kimchi is often made with cucumbers or cabbage. My favorite is cucumber.

We are going to have a good number of squashes this year. We will have a few ears of corn, but not many because our soil is too sandy. One day we would like to have a truckload of good dirt brought in so we can grow veggies such as corn, but that’s not in the budget during these uncertain times. Meanwhile, we have to grow many of our plants in raised garden beds in which we put bags of good dirt. We probably won’t try to grow corn again.

Our crop of beans and peas was “meh” this year–probably because it was very dry this summer and the plants didn’t get enough to drink despite our efforts to water them. EJ planted a few tomatoes, but we decided to buy several bushels at the local farm market to buy enough to make canning them worth the effort. EJ tried his hand at canning a year or two ago but we still consider ourselves to be novices and keep trying to improve our process and expand our recipes. EJ stopped in at the market on Friday and brought home a lot of tomatoes. I didn’t quite comprehend that four bushels of tomatoes would be THAT many. If wealth was measured in tomatoes, we’d now be very rich. We have so many that I was glad to learn that we can freeze some until we are ready to can or cook with them. We froze some of the ripest ones this morning while EJ canned a few others. We will be busy with tomatoes for a while, I think. Our goal is to can diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, and EJ would like to can some chili made with the tomatoes. Eventually, he’d like to learn to can beans and meat.

Our previous house downstate was an older house which we kept working on over the years. Room by room we replaced the cheap paneling on the walls with better quality wall board. Usually one of us had a strong idea of how to renovate a particular room. Eventually, we developed a tradition that whoever had the strongest “vision” for a room got to take creative control of it. The tradition transferred over to other areas of our lives so that now whichever of us has an idea or desire to do or make something gets to be the “job boss” for that project while the other provides any needed support. For example, EJ makes homemade bread in our bread machine because he really wants to do it. He likes learning about bread-making and trying different ideas. He also wanted to do canning so he’s in charge and I support him by finding recipes, cutting up tomatoes, washing the dishes, or whatever needs to be done. On the other hand, I do most of the cooking, including with the instant pot. I care for the herb garden, drying the herbs, and learning about their culinary and medicinal uses because that interests me. Having chickens was my idea so the chickens are mine to care for. This tradition works really well for us because we each get to do what interests us most.

I’ve been getting more fairy eggs–four so far–so I think some of the chicks are beginning to lay eggs. Fairy eggs are not common. I’ve read that a hen’s first egg may be a fairy one. I also gathered more eggs than usual yesterday so I’m really thinking and hoping the chicks are starting to lay. I suppose I shouldn’t call them “chicks” anymore since they are pretty much full-grown.

I had never seen an indigo bunting until we moved here. Even so, I usually just saw a few glimpses a few times a summer. However, this year we have frequently seen indigo buntings in both the front yard and the back garden. A week or two ago I was looking out the window at the vegetable garden when I saw a vivid blue indigo bunting. They are always a joy to see. As I watched, I saw him give a morsel to another bird. I’ve read that birds will continue feeding their young for a day or two after they leave the nest so I realized that I was witnessing the first flight of indigo buntings. Very cool.

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