Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pears, Anyone??

A couple of weeks ago, we got down to business and processed our numerous pears that came off the tree in our wonderful new back yard. Have I said how much I love our home? The yard has been a work in progress.
It went from this:

To this:

I've been cutting up the wood the previous owners left in piles around the yard, as well as moving wood to the shed. Phew!

There was quite a bit of salvageable wood as well, which we used to build the chicken coop (pictures of that process will be coming tomorrow). I've even still got a pile of wood we can use for future projects.

I even stained/painted the deck last week to get it ready for the winter rains:
But, about those pears....

My hubby and mom even got in on the fun of this all-day project for part of it. I peeled, cored, and sliced pears for hours.

 Packed them into sterilized quart jars with hot apple juice that I prepared on the stove.
And processed them in the water-bath canner for 25 minutes.
 The result? 13 lovely quarts of pears!

I didn't quite get all the pears canned in one day, so I decided to take my friend Meg's suggestion and dehydrated some. But these aren't just sliced and dried. They are dredged through red-hots. At Meg's instruction, I melted a package of the cinnamon candy on the stove with some water, stirring to keep it from burning.

Once it was a nice syrup, I stirred a few pears at a time into the syrup:
 Then placed them in the dehydrator, where they still are (and smelling quite tasty, I might add):
 I think they'll take about 24 hours, but I just might have sneaked one off the bottom rack this morning and it tasted wonderful already. What a treat! Thanks, Meg!

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Recent Endeavors!

I'm really enjoying our new little home. Here are just a few of the things I've been busy with lately. Canning has been big on my to-do list. I've made a few jars of pickles and plenty of jam, including strawberry, strawberry-peach, and strawberry-rhubarb. I even tried my hand at some plum jam from all the plums off our tree and I must say that it turned out quite tasty! I also made a large jar of cranberry sauce for the holidays, and oh, did the house smell heavenly after that one. In addition to canning, I've processed and frozen several batches of zucchini and rhubarb for breads and pies this winter. Tomorrow I'll be peeling, slicing, and canning the numerous bags of pears that came off our tree. Whee!!
As for the rest of the garden, our cool summer hasn't been the best for production (of course, neither was transplanting). I've gotten a grand total of 4 pumpkins, a handful of cucumbers, and a few tomatoes. There should be a good 8 or so small cantaloupe to harvest here in a bit. But when we moved, I had to leave behind my snap peas, pole beans, corn, and two gigantic tomato plants. I am sure that whoever rented that house is loving them. As for my green peppers and jalapenos? I got two small ones from each plant. Ah, well, there is always next year. Oh, and see that shed back there behind the garden? I've been moving wood from the fence to that shed. I've still got a bit to do, but I'd guess that we have almost enough wood to last us through the season. That should really help us cut down on heating costs... and cooking costs, since I can throw pots of soup/stew on the top of the stove as well.
I've been loving our outdoor clothes-drying rack. But, given our apparent lack of summer and early arrival of fall, I decided to string up some lines in the basement. Here's hoping that they'll dry quickly enough when the weather is cool and damp.
My next project? Building a chicken coop with all the scraps of lumber that were strewn all over the yard. That's right, we'll be getting chickens. Not only will we not have to run to the store for eggs, but we'll save on waste since chickens love table scraps.

Hmmmm, and should we add a puppy to the mix? I don't know, but one of my longest and dearest friends just announced that her dog had 8 puppies. It's tempting....

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Our Summer

It's been a whirlwind couple of months. Between buying the house, packing, moving, unpacking, kitchen construction, gardening, church, and family, it's been hard to keep up with even the normal chore routine... let alone doing anything extra. But, I think things are (sort of) calming down now. We celebrated William's first birthday in August. Dorothy's birthday was just a couple of days ago. She just turned 5 and we decided to put her into a Kindergarten program at one of our neighborhood churches, as they were fine with her birthday being a bit past the cutoff. Today was her first day and since her birthday was recently, they celebrated it today. Her first day of school and she got to wear a crown all day! Here she is in her crown, her Dora backpack, and her princess shoes. My little girl is growing up.

Speaking of growing up, sweet Charlotte is potty training now. She just decided one day last week that she wanted panties, and that was that! Of course, when she wants something "just so", she tends to do it herself....