Sneaking Into The Farmer’s Field, Blooming Lilies and a Canning S.O.S.

From Mrs. Cog’s Corner

Anyone who read my piece on the medicinal properties of red clover tea knows I am excited to add it to my list of regular items to consume. Red clover is the number one forage crop for livestock in the Northeast U.S. and sure enough, our neighboring farmers grow it.

It calls to me.

After passing one particular field on many trips to and fro, finally I’d had enough. Under the guise of taking pictures I suited up to go traipsing through the field, armed with scissors and a two gallon bucket. The blooms were glorious. Not a single one came off without a bug. Thank goodness I had the foresight after getting home to spread them on a few cookie sheets and set them in the sun for a day. A few more days in the window and my blooms will be dry enough for tea.

Red Clover FieldPink clover blossoms

The zucchini continues to explode in production. Cog and I had a lively conversation this morning about eight zucchini plants being too many, too few or just right. He keeps saying ridiculous things like, “You know you can compost some of that?” LOL Right. Not!

Yesterday, I made another 14 pints of bread and butter zucchini pickles, and 5 with cucumbers which are just starting their earnest production. When I served Cog his tomato/basil sandwich on toast with… pickles on the side for lunch he asked if pickles were going to be a regular on the menu for the next 15 years.

Two days ago I made a spectacular blueberry and peach jam. Like my recent strawberries it didn’t turn out quite right. Once again my fruit floats in the jar after being processed and jelly forms at the bottom. So it separates itself while processing. I spent quite a bit of time Googling and digging in canning forums. The consensus seemed to be that either more pectin was needed or it wasn’t boiled long enough after the sugar was added and before it went into the jars. If anyone has any pearls of wisdom, please let me know. If you are not a premium member, drop a note to the webmaster with your two cents please?

Since my jam isn’t perfect that means I can’t give any away, and we’ll have to eat it all ourselves. Sigh.

Jam and pickles

It’s turning out to be a very pleasant summer. The temps haven’t been hotter than the mid 80s and there is a breeze almost every day. The lilies are beginning to bloom. The tomato plants are continuing to grow at an insane rate and many are up to my chin. As the child unit is traveling for the month to visit family, we are hoping to knock out a number of big messy projects including the bulk of the kitchen renovations.

With the absence of kitchen availability looming in the upcoming weeks, I have set up a massive staging area complete with cooking space and access to water in the basement for garden canning operations. Cog just nods and smiles as I explain this, and offers to wait until post-harvest on the kitchen upgrades. I think he sees this as a way to relieve him of the blame when the tomato deluge goes terribly wrong downstairs and I am in tears for access to a proper kitchen once again. This, of course, will not be how things play out

My exile to the basement is excellent practice for several Plan B’s and contingencies that I never get to test because Cog is so efficient at making sure everything works as it should. I am ready for the challenge and will keep the updates coming. :-)

Blooming LiliesThe Lilies of the Mountain

10 thoughts on “Sneaking Into The Farmer’s Field, Blooming Lilies and a Canning S.O.S.”

  1. Great photos Mrs. Cog.

    Tell CD that my son the athlete (former captain of U of WA rugby team) swears by pickles and pickle juice as being a better aid for bruising, straining and hydrating than anything else you can buy. He and his other no-neck buddies would go to Costco and load up on the gallon size jars. They especially wanted the pickle juice and would drink every drop, staying away from all the sugary sports drinks. Pickles, especially the sour or dill kind are good for you! Eat up CD.

    1. I ain’t eatin’ no stinkin’ pickles. :)

      Actually I have no problem with pickles in moderation. However I suspect you will never see me chugging down a gallon of pickle juice unless Mrs. Cog ‘makes‘ me. :-)

      Cognitive Dissonance

  2. I love pickles…made with cucumbers.
    Zucchini not so much. You have my sympathies Cog. ;)

    You have no idea how much zucchini, red beets and asparagus ended up on my plate directly from my grandmother’s garden when I was a kid. I think there was a pipeline or something…

    My dinner from hell as a kid: Beef tongue/and or liver, any of the three above items, and carrot juice for the beverage. Yeeeccch!

    1. I pick the zucchini young and tender and make most into crispy bread and butter pickles with fresh onions that grew up next to the zucchini. When put in a pretty jar, I bet many people might not even know they weren’t cucumbers… might even “make you” forget your childhood zucchini aversion Disenchanted. :-)
      July 4 pickles

  3. Hm m m m m . . .

    I see a terminal disconnect here for his nibs re: zucchini pickles by any other name.

    Whatever. There are a lot of other ways to ‘slice ‘n dice’ garden goodies for pickles. Again, I will suggest pickled green tomatoes harvested at the end of the season when an early incipient frost condemns non-ripened fruit to the compost heap (don’t get any ideas, Mssr. Cog!) . . . or into very large 5-gal. plastic buckets for pickle-prep. My very own ‘Bah! Humbug! pickle-hating partner goes all squishy over green tomato pickles. He refuses to allow me to trade them with my fellow canners, jealously hoarding them for his own amusement. I’ll send Mrs. Cog the recipe and then please! do try them at least once. You will not be sorry.

    Hi, Dis: As for ‘Childhood Meals I’d Much Rather Forget’, who can avoid remembering a 50’s classic: Tinned salmon ‘log’, lima beans from a can, over-salted scalloped potatoes and Jello-brand butterscotch pudding with fake ‘cream’ on top? The dog ate WELL that night!

    (If I could get away with it . . . )
    :) LionLady

  4. For Mrs. Cog re: Jam Issues

    I will check my old tried-and-true 1940’s Kerr Canning Cookbook for any useful tid-bits on your troubles.

    Right off the ‘ol bat, I would guess that pectin is one of the issues here as blueberries and peaches are high in sugar but almost nil in pectin, which can be naturally obtained by cooking down one’s own apple crop and making your own, hi-test pectin. It’s what I use other than the packaged stuff.

    Also, I would agree with the cooking times issue. Often, the magic happens when the stuff simmers on low over a LONG period, cooks down slowly and turns to a lovely kind of ‘mush’. Having identifiably whole fruit in a jam-intended mix is a tip-off that cooking needs to continue. Preserves are identifiable visually (and are an entirely different process from jam-making); jams shouldn’t be. I have also had my carefully sliced-‘n-diced apple pie sections turn to applesauce if overcooked – or do the separation thing-y if undercooked, – so precise timing, which can only happen with eagle-eyed attention to the process, is key here. Multi-tasking outside of the juggle of canning-related activities while in the midst of processing, isn’t on if one wants to prevent disasters – and I admit to having had some truly spectacular ones, early-on. It just takes time to get this stuff right, and the addition of a well-oiled ‘6th sense’ about when to stop/add key ingredients/eval and JAR! in order to get gorgeous results. The devil is in the little details, but the joys are in the beautiful results when it all flows together.

    More later as I find it – and do share what comes up. We can all use some insights and help with this kind of thing, no matter how ‘experienced’ we may believe ourselves to be (myself definitely included!).


    1. Wonderful! Another convert. :-)

      Cog is cooking his spicy rice jumbalaya for dinner and asked for… wait for it… zucchini to chop up and add to it. Well, there is none – for the first time in weeks. I made more pickles then finished the rest off breaded and baked at lunchtime lol. Maybe if he waits ten minutes, more will be ready to pick.

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