Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Week in Review

The summer is drawing to a close for me.  In just four short days I will return to work, and the chores around here will have to be taken care of at night and on weekends.  In the meantime, I'm trying to accomplish as much as possible.  While I haven't canned as much as I usually do due to the craziness of moving, there are still things that we aren't willing to go without all year.  Those are the projects I've focused on over the past few weeks. 

We have put up a variety of canned goods.  Some of them can be seen in the photo below.  I'm still trying to find a good place for my canned goods until we can do some renovating, and I hesitate to even share this photo with you now.  They are being stored on some old shelves in the laundry room (a curtain hides them) as well as in a cabinet in the kitchen until we have a better solution. Included in the picture are jars of (top row from left to right) pressure canned green beans, grape jam, peach jam, and the best canned tomato salsa ever (from Simply Recipes).  The bottom row (from left to right) includes garlic and herb pasta sauce, chile garlic dill pickles, pickled corn/poblano/pinto salsa (from Better Homes and Gardens- I'll post about it once we open it and try it out), crushed tomatoes, and apple wine jelly made using the recipe for muscadine wine jelly but (obviously) using homemade apple wine instead.     

We recently realized that one of the grape vines that the previous owner had intended on cutting down has come back out and is loaded with Concord grapes.  We had to dodge privet bushes and the like to get to them, but we did it and ended up with about ten pounds of ripe grapes.  There are still more on the vine, and we will harvest them when they ripen.  They are absolutely delicious, sweet, a little tart and super juicy.  I used four pounds to make this Concord grape jam which is so much easier (and I think better) than jelly, and my in-laws took home two gallon size bags.   We ended up with eight half-pints of jam which will last us until next fall.  The chickens loved the leftover grape skins.  It's so satisfying making jam with your own fruit.  I usually have to buy grapes from an orchard we visit in the mountains, but not anymore.  

Our project for the weekend is to pick ripe grapes from the muscadine and scuppernong vines.  Those vines are growing together on the same arbor, and unfortunately into a nearby tree (a pruning project for later in the year).  We will pick the ripe ones and figure out what to do with them and leave the rest to ripen over the next few weeks.  I was thinking of making grape pie filling although I'm still not settled on it.  If anyone has any ideas for what to do with them, I'm all ears.  

Over the weekend we will also pick some of the pears off the tree by the chicken coop.  The chickens have been enjoying the ones that fall (which we break open for them).  Not all are ripe, but there are some that are ready, and the squirrels around here don't mind getting to them before us if we dilly dally.  I was walking around the orchard the other day and a freshly half-eaten pear almost hit me on the head when it was dropped from the tree by a squirrel.  They are cute, but they are pesky.  They also break open the walnuts and pecans.  We really hope they save some for us!  I'll be doing some kind of canning project with the pears once we pick them.  I'm considering either pear sauce or canned pear quarters in red hot syrup.  I'll keep you posted on what I decide.  For now, we're enjoying just eating them out of hand.  They are crisp and juicy.  All of the fruit trees and vines on our property have been neglected for years, but now that we own them, we hope to remedy that.  With a good pruning later in the year, we hope all of our trees and vines will be better producers (and be healthier) going into next year.  

I cleaned out the deep freezer and organized it.  It is so frustrating when you don't know how much of something you have and have to dig around to find it.  If I ever buy another freezer, I will go with an upright one rather than a chest freezer to make finding things easier.  In the meantime, I used this handy printable I found online to take inventory of the contents of the deep freezer.  It will allow me to easily cross things out when I use them so I can keep track of what we have.  

So, that's what's been happening around here.  My plan for today (since it's not raining) is to mow and check in on the bees.  There's always something to do around here, and I'm loving it!


  1. So nice to read your posts and know there are kindred spirits out there. :-)

  2. Thanks! I love hearing from people like you!

  3. the bronze colored grapes make the best jelly.

  4. How about pickled grapes? I've never made them but I've seen several recipes (or you could try the 5 spice cherry recipe with them) or perhaps a chutney or relish? Drying them as well, but they shrink so much!! I found a 'beach' plum shrub by a local shoe store that I'll have to scavenge from, but other than our baby apple tree (with 2 baby Gala apples this year -- first fruit), we have to buy all of ours. Someday... Have fun with your harvest!

  5. I like the idea of pickled grapes. I've never tried them, but they sound good. I also considered drying them, but after the move, I left my good range with the drying feature at my other house and am using a less than stellar range right now. I am highly considering a dehydrator until we renovate the kitchen. Thanks for the input!

  6. I so enjoyed reading your blog. Too many are boring, yours is a joy.