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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It smells more like spring.

The creek is high again.
This year has washed away the sides of the creek bank more than any other year. The rains come all at once and I'm happy to have the dam upstream hold up against this torrent of water. Our little bridge by the chicken house that's been there since I was about 6 has eroded away from below. The high waters came up and chipped away at the earth around it until there was just a crust on top that turned into a sinkhole when my dog stepped on it. I'm surprised I didn't lose her! She also has noticed that places in the creek she used to be able to walk across are now a swimming endeavor.
I'm on my second cup of tea, my fourteenth tissue, and still in my pajama pants debating where this day is going to go. My dad has the fedco tree catalog and keeps milling about thinking over the descriptions of the trees both with interest and incredulous disbelief. They actually tout the amazing properties of the locust tree! They describe how to turn acorns edible, and they sell unsexed ginkgo trees for city plantings. Ha! Nothing like some stinky fruit to give your city a very interesting nickname. I guess it could be a conversation piece.
I am contemplating ordering more kiwi vines. We've been planting them for the past few years with no fruit yet. I guess that's how my cranberries are too. And the blueberries, plum trees, cherry tree, aronia bush, serviceberries, gooseberries, and baby apple trees i've been nestling all over this little spot of ground i have. The pear tree that marks the grave of my sister's late great cat produced this year (the Jasper pear, as we'll call it) and the peach trees tried to produce baby peaches which were delicious, albeit rather tiny. Our strawberry patch went crazy this year. A week ago, my sister was back in there breaking up garlic bulbs and planting them among the mat of junebearing and the sporadic everbearing that still have little flowers and tiny fruit coming on.

Bronchitis has slowed me down a bit today and I'm back to curling up and watching the cooking channel, planning winter soups and trying to use up all the winter squash that I've squirreled away. Jason made winter squash enchiladas, which were amazing. He boiled the winter squash until tender then cubed it along with some summer squash, carrots, and made a sauce with garlic, cilantro and onions and some chili spices and butter. He mixed that all together and stuffed a soft shell tortilla. He topped it with sauteed garlic, onions, butter, and rooster sauce put in the blender and baked it. A little sour cream on top and I really didn't miss the meat at all! It was slightly sweet but still spicy and completely delicious!!!!

Now my task for the day is to figure out a winter vegetable storage plan. I have my root cellar (aka a corner of my basemet) cleared out and now I've just got to figure out the best way to store the surplus of winter squash that I've collected along with some apples, onions, beets, and other random veggies.
I know that apples must be stored completely separate because they give off something that accelerates the rotting of other fruits and veggies, which is why they shouldn't be placed in a functional fruit bowl.

So now is a good time to share a tip that I've learned about storing fruits and veggies - there are two requirements to consider when cellaring fruits and veggies ::: temperature and humidity. Think of the difference between moist loving veggies like turnips or cabbage vs onions and winter squash. Your turnips would turn into dry little shrivels if they were stored dry and your cabbage would split without high humidity. Meanwhile, your onions would get that annoying mold under the skin at high humidity and your winter squash would get squishy.
So here's a list from Root Cellaring that gives a basic outline of what fruits and veggies should be stored at.
Cold & Very Moist:
Carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery, chinese cabbage, cereriac, salsify, scorzonera, winter radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, collards, broccoli (short term), brussel sprouts (short term), horseradish, sunchokes

Cool and Moist: potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower (short term) apples, grapes (yeah right, not for very long), citrus, pears, endive, cucumbers, sweet peppers (45-55) cantalope, melons, eggplant, ripe tomato

Cool and Dry: garlic, onions, green podded soybeans

Moderately warm and dry: dry hot peppers, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes, green tomatoes

So now I've got to get my winter squash out of the basement and into the living room by the fire and my potatoes are going to the basement and I'm suddenly really hungry for brussel sprouts and apple pie. I'm going to put the goats in the garden to try to mow down the weeds that have all gone to seed as I shake my head and hope that next year works out better as I shovel dirt into the holes in the eroded bridge while enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. I love the smell of mud, but I fear my brain is getting tricked into skipping winter entirely and thinking it's spring already. I know my lilac is tricked into leafing out already. Oops. I'm sure we'll see the snow fly by next week and all will be back to normal... well, as normal as Ohio weather ever is.