Wow, another productive day. Sunday, I slept in, watched a movie and called my sister, left a message. The pickles prepped in the fridge will need vinegar, I checked the spices, I’m good. Off to town, dollar store for crackers and more plastic snap bowls for lunch soups. Safeway for a gallon of distilled vinegar, bottled water, more O broccoli for soup, there’s boneless beef ribs in the discount bin, to make stew. Ah, coffee at the Bucky’s stall.
I remembered to grab my basket snips on the way out this morning, so I hung a left up to the Montessori school and parked. There is a whole row of willow trees on this stretch of road. I walked up, a lot of weeping willows, but also a few clumps of the wild red and green stuff like near the river. The wild stuff has longer single shoots still supple. I trim back the green stuff overhanging the side walk, should benefit the public while supplying me with basket stock. I stripped the leaves and left them to return to the soil for the tree. On the way back is another wild red one, a good contrast, a bit back from the sidewalk with some old logs in front to climb up to get to the splits so the tree can keep growing strong. This should be enough for a good basket. Up the road to home.
The canning pan of water on to boil, I throw in a load of laundry for the week. Break out ‘Joy of Cooking’ for the bread and butter recipe. Canning jars in the oven 215 F, mostly new pints, a couple washed older ones and two cup jars in case of a half end. As the big pan boils I throw in the colander, jar tongs, wide jar funnel, regular tongs, a table knife, and the steel ladle to sterilize. I fish them out ten minutes later.
Meanwhile, the four cups vinegar, four cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 1/2 Tbsp mustard seed, 1 1/2 tsp celery seed, less than 1/4 tsp cloves (too much), 1/2 tsp cinnamon. bring to a simmer. Last night I chopped 3 1/2 pounds of cucumber, a fat onion, a red and green pepper, salted with a half a cup salt split between the two bowls, plastic wrapped and refrigerated. Today, emptied the liquid, refilled with water to sit a bit, drained and again. Tastes right, added to the syrup and bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Time, pull a jar from the oven with the tongs, wide funnel on, ladle the pickles in, knife it in filled and bubble free, topped with syrup. wipe the jar, add the lid and screw on the ring. Repeat, five full pints, and enough for a half pint with nibbles of onions and a few peppers. Jar tong into the water bath on high, 10 plus minutes hard boiled. remove to cool as they snap sealed. Five and a half pints.
I moved the laundry to dry. Soup time. As the pickles are cooking down I prepped the veggies for a stew, potatoes, carrots, a sweet onion, garlic, Duncan’s mushrooms and the beef ribs cut of fat and gristle, scraps for the cat. I cooked the mushrooms and onions separately, pulled back, then the meat to brown waiting for the water to boil off and actually brown, pulled back. Add two ladles water and stir to get the bits off the bottom of the pan into solution. Add the beef and half a box of beef broth to simmer covered and tenderize for an hour.
Meanwhile, broccoli cheese soup. a Tbsp butter and a sweet onion in the small frying pan, cooked and set aside. 1/4 cup more butter with 1/4 cup flour to make a roux. Slowly add 2 cups half and half, two cups chicken broth to a boil. I added a cup of white cooking wine. Julienne a cup carrots from the garden, onions, garlic and half pound or more of broccoli. Garden herbs, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and oregano. I blendered the bigger pieces of broccoli with some broth reincorporated and brought back to a boil. For cheese I used a brick of TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar, the very best, cut by knife to small pieces. Added at the end and melted in. This stuff is fabulous, lightly salted, so tasty. I packed it in five round plastic bowls, refrigerated for now.
Back to the stew, I added the veggies. The meat is tender, let it all cook down.
I have some time, play with the willow, 3 and 3 for a standard round start, with a center plier crimped long strand to tie them together twisted around . And again squared twice, then each individual spoke twisted out. I add in another odd spoke so the count works. I’m running low on strands, using the bodkin I tuck them in and tuck in a new strand. Keep going, adding strands big end to big, small to small; for a decent base. I’m getting better at this. As I reach a small end I bend the spokes up and tie them with the blue ribbons, shifting into upright sides, weaving standard for a while. Next time I reach the small end I start three rows in three rod wale with the red stock then shift back to standard green weave as the strands run out, tucked down in the inner weave. The stew needs attention.
I mix up some flour and water to thicken the stew broth, stirring it constantly in to make a perfect gravy. Taste, a bit more salt, but the veggies are done. Excellent, packed in square boxes, cooled then refrigerated, to be frozen. I have a lot of food for lunches. It won’t all fit, perhaps some for my coworkers. But everything is now cold.
I work more on the basket, These thick ones won’t final braid, I’ll end it with a simple in out and tuck. Crude but it works, a basket. I sort out the few pears that are ripe and fill it.
What a day, pickles, two soups, laundry and a basket, that’s a lot. Back to work tomorrow, with a full new basket of pears.