Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Slight

I just heard a few raindrops.  Earlier this morning, the deck and the cars showed that more had fallen.  It was darker than usual when I awoke but later than usual. I quickly grabbed an extra shirt to warm up from the brisk air in the house.

We experienced a dramatic overnight weather change.  There's a distinct feeling of fall in this morning's air, but the blue sky has almost returned.  I see it coming over the mountain.  

The weather change means the cucumbers will slow down on the rapid growth they've experienced the past few days.  And, so will my pumpkins, all two dozen or so of them.

The good news of this strange growing year is that I have been able to get a pumpkin plant to grow---first time in three years of attempts.  And, is it ever growing.  Covers most of the manure pile, a lot of my cucumber plants, and it extends out to the grass area.  

I wasn't sure at first what the plant was because I had planted three different kinds of vine plants in the manure pile area, praying that something would grow.  Two seeds sprouted and eventually plants popped up through the dirt.  Because of the late growing season, both kinda sat there doing nothing for a long time.

Then summer came, and one plant took off while the other still took time to think about whether it was worth it to grow in this 2010 garden season.  It finally got on with the program a few weeks ago, but I rather doubt that I'll pick a zucchini from its vines this year.  

But that pumpkin is something else.  It has created its own manure pile jungle, and has managed to sprout out lots of fruit to boot.  I haven't found anything on the plant, however, that looks worthy of enrolling in the Bonner County Fair competition.  

Then again, with our weird growing season, maybe my little pumpkins would stand a chance this year.

My daughter-in-law told me that the Boundary County Fair, wrapping up today, was low on veggie entries.  And, Boundary County usually has better weather and a more productive growing season than we do.

So, when our fair opens Monday, it will be interesting to see the quantities and the sizes of garden products.

I've been debating on whether to enter anything at all.  My garden does have some beautiful dill, lots of it, and a good crop of carrots.  I've pulled some from the front-yard planters that look like competition quality.  

My cucumbers are nice, but who wants to waste four cucumbers when there's no guarantee of what the weather will allow to grow from now on.

Those cucumbers, most of them anyway, are bound for the pickling kettle.  Several years ago, I made some bread and butter pickles (that was the bountiful growing year when I even gave away 55 cukes to a guy at the hospital). 

Chomping on those pickles was just like eating candy, and I remember giving away quart jars full to friends, even one of the checkers at Yoke's.   Later, people would tell me they just sat down and ate the whole jar. 

I don't know where the recipe went for the pickles because of our move four years ago, so I found one on the Internet and printed it off.   Yesterday was designated as "pickling supply day."  I checked off the pickling ingredients available here at home and then wrote down those I needed to purchase. 

I chose the Super 1 store because of an additional need for Meadow Gold French vanilla ice cream.  Once at the spice display, I pulled out my list of needed spices.  Red pepper flakes---well, I looked and found a jar of crushed red pepper, grabbed it from the shelf and THEN looked at the price:  $5.97.  

It didn't take long for me to realize I might not use red pepper flakes again for maybe 20 years. Hard to hand over almost $6 for a couple of flakes.   Suddenly a sense of economic caution took over my instinct to just grab whatever I needed off the shelf.  The celery seed was pricey, and I couldn't find the mustard seed.  

But then my eye caught the pickling spice bottle.  I picked it up, looked at the ingredients, and everything necessary was already in the pickling spice.  That's when I wondered who the rich person was who put out that recipe in the first place.

It also occurred to me that with my questionable amount of cucumbers, it would be very possible for me to preserve some $35 jars of homegrown pickles.  That didn't seem right, no matter how good they taste, and certainly nobody outside my family was gonna get a jar.

So, the jar of pickling spice went in the cart, and all the others returned to the shelf.  On my way home, it also occurred to me that I probably already have a jar of pickling spice in my cupboard.  Moral of story:  read between the lines on some of those recipes or you could go broke enjoying a pickle. 

Anyway, this will be a weekend of deciding whether or not to take anything to the fair.  If so, I'll do some careful selecting and get the items all spruced up for display.  If not, we'll just enjoy the garden produce and be thankful for what we've got in this strange year.

1 comment:

Florine said...

Marianne, always check the Mexican food section for things like crushed red peppers, cumin, cinnamon, etc. The product isn't always the same, but rare is the palate that can tell the difference.