Monthly Archives: August 2008

Four in the bed

Yesterday morning, there was a pretty good storm with lots of thunder and lightning.  I was somewhat aware of the flashing and racket but was fully awakened when both kids came running in and hopped in bed with us.  Emily and I seem to fit pretty well in our full-size bed but the kids made four…in a full-size bed.  It was pretty tight.  I am used to hanging on to my 18 or so inches that Emily deeded to me, but I was given even less with everyone in bed.  We all had fun for awhile, but the kids became restless.  According to tradition, I headed to Panera to get some cinnamon rolls and bagels.  Weekends rule!


Tomatoes are starting to ripen so we’re starting to can salsa.  We were given a great recipe by a friend last year and are making it like crazy this year. I didn’t keep track of how much we made last year but I suspect it was 25-30 pints.  We are planning to make a lot more this year.  From last year’s work, we learned a few things that has made the first batches a little easier.  Roma tomatoes seem to peel the easiest for us.  Salsa before cooking down

Salsa after cooking down

We freeze the tomatoes in advance and then let them slightly defrost before peeling them.  In a half-frozen state, the skins just pull right off. We never make double recipes because our recipe requires that we boil the brew for 10 minutes. Boiling something thick for that long splatters all over. Our pot isn’t big enough to even really contain a single recipe. We also hand chop onions and green peppers but use a processor on the hot peppers. Most folks seem to like big chunks of sweet peppers and onions but a big chunk of habanero can bring about a religious experience…usually losing religion actually!

Salsa canned in the jar

Anyhow, we love salsa!  We eat the stuff on tacos, eggs, baked potatoes and with nacho chips.  Typically, we make two varieties, one pretty hot and one mild. Emily is starting to enjoy the hotter variety so we may increase production of that. We usually use a mix of jalapenos, cayennes and habaneros though we haven’t found habaneros for sale yet. Our crop of them failed miserably. Enough about that…the point is, salsa has to be one of my favorite things to can.  Bring on the ‘maters!

The end of blackberries

WV BlackberriesWe seem to have come to the end of the blackberries.  When we started picking at the end of June, we could easily pick until our baskets were full.  I never weighed the berries we picked but we harvested a lot of berries.  All together, we made 54 half pints of jam, 10 pints of syrup, three pies and we froze around 8-10 more quart-sized freezer bags.  We went a few nights ago and the berries have surely dwindled (or else someone else found our spot!).  We got enough to fill a quart freezer bag but no more. Although a little eariler than planned, we had figured on stopping picking sometime around the end of summer. There is an English wives’ tale that goes something like this…

When the Devil was kicked out of Heaven on October 11(the date of Michaelmas though I have seen it posted as September 29 also…one is old Michaelmas and the other modern Michaelmas I guess), he landed, cursing and screaming, on a thorny blackberry bush.

He avenges himself on the same day every year by spitting (or some say, peeing) on the berries, which makes them inedible.

Apparently, there is some truth to leaving blackberries alone in the Fall.  The climatic changes of Autumn apparently are ripe for mold to breed which may make the blackberries unsafe to eat.

There is another English tale regarding blackberries…
Once upon a time, a cormorant (a seabird that dives for fish), a bat, and a blackberry bush entered the wool business together, buying, shipping, and selling wool.  Unfortunately, their ship, loaded with wool, sank on its first voyage, and their business went belly-up.   Ever since, the cormorant dives into the sea looking for the ship. The bat hides from his creditors in a cave, venturing forth only after dark. And the blackberry bush grabs wool from any passing sheep, trying to replace his loss.


I found all sorts of interesting stuff about blackberries here and here.

I also found an interesting site that has some explanations of old traditions associated with the Celtic season/month