Archive for August, 2013

Outdoor Canning Kitchen & Sweet Corn

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

canning kitchen

This weekend I dragged out all my paraphernalia to set up my outdoor canning kitchen. I set it up on the sidewalk just outside my kitchen door, and it will be getting quite a bit of use over the next few weeks. It’s a very simple setup, and keeps my house from becoming hot and steamy during the dog days of August.  The burner/stand is from an old turkey fryer.  I use one big pot to boil water for scalding tomatoes, peaches, corn, etc.  The other big pot is filled with cold water, which I use to quickly cool said scalded tomatoes, peaches, corn, etc.  From my staging area outdoors, I move my scalded/blanched produce into the house to finish processing.

This weekend I’ve been working on a wheelbarrow full of organic sweet corn that was GIVEN to me.  Yep, that’s right, it was free!


I also got some help this time around.  Since we moved our youngest son to college last weekend, my husband has been especially attentive to me, as we’ve been adjusting to our empty nest.

bart shucking

I also got a little bit of help from the family cat. He’s always got to be in the center of whatever is going on around here. I finally had to give him a small ear of corn to get him out of my hair. He’s a raw fed kitty, so who would have figured he was a sucker for sweet corn?

feisty helper

My setup for cutting corn is very basic.

corn setup

I use a bowl turned upside down in a shallow pan and a very sharp, comfortable knife.  I keep a knife sharpener handy, and run the knife over it every dozen or so ears of corn.  I use a regular sharp edged teaspoon to scrape the cobs after I’ve cut the kernels off.  Once I have all the corn off the ears, I package it up in freezer bags, lay the bags flat on cookie sheets, and then stack the cookie sheets in my big deep freeze until the corn is frozen.

Now, I need to go finish the corn.  I’ll let you know how much I end up “putting by” later in the week when I share some more of my canning adventures.  I’m going to have close to 50 pounds of tomatoes to deal with on Tuesday.

Personal Log: Stardate 67095.7

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

I know I’ve been rather quiet this summer.  It’s been a mixed bag, emotional roller coaster of a summer.  This morning, as I’ve been moving around my house, trying to go on with life as usual, I’ve been feeling the overwhelming need to get it all off my chest. This blog is the closest thing to a journal that I’ve ever kept, so it just makes sense to do it here.

This season of big changes in my life began in May with the news that my eldest son had been offered a job in Utah, and had 6 days to pack for the move.  I knew something like this would happen one day, and it was a wonderful opportunity for my son.  This is what raising children is all about … shaping them into happy, responsible adults who will be equipped to strike out in the world, and make their own way.  I found out I wasn’t as prepared for this eventuality as I thought I would be, and spent those 6 days crying as I helped him pack.  Then, on the evening of May 20th, my little birdie flew.  As happy as I was for him, it felt like like my heart was going to break.

fly birdie

However, life goes on, and my husband, youngest son, and I grew accustomed to the change.  Eleven days later, my youngest son graduated from high school.  My son is the young man on the left.


My little family of 3 settled into the summer routine of work and play, and began to make preparations for my youngest to go away to college in the fall.  In the middle of the summer, I had a difficult moment of heartbreak.

In July I decided to add a couple of young Sebastopol geese to the flock of chickens in the pasture. They were beautiful, friendly, and so intelligent.  I fell in love with them immediately.


A few days after bringing them home, a wandering Siberian Husky climbed the pasture fence and killed my new geese, and half the flock of chickens I had raised from chicks.  I was devastated.  It turned out the dog belonged to a neighboring Amish farm, and the Amish farmer did compensate us for the loss.  Unfortunately, here in farm country, a dog that kills livestock has to be put down, which made the whole situation all the more tragic.  I decided to get right back on the horse, and was able to locate a new pair of geese, which I brought home about 3 weeks ago.

new geese

So, this brings me up to this morning.  Yesterday my youngest son moved into his dorm room in Indianapolis.  My beautiful baby boy is now a young man taking his first steps of independence.   My house is a very different kind of quiet this morning, and I’ve started to cry again.   I usually pour my heart out to my mom, but she’s away in England visiting my brother right now.  My husband is out in the woods hunting squirrels, my oldest is in Utah, and my youngest is in Indy posting pictures of  his new  view on Facebook. It’s very different than the view of the cornfield from the bedroom window he’s looked from since birth.


It’s exciting that my kids are grown up, and beginning lives of their own.  It also marks the end of an era for my husband and I, and the beginning of something new.  I know these changes are normal and good, and common to all parents. My story isn’t unique, but yet it feels like it is.  I know there are many good things to come, but for right now I feel like my heart is breaking.  These children are so much a part of me than they’ll ever know, I love them more than life, and the separation is difficult.

brother messing around