Part One: The Blackberries
I picked berries for about an hour and a half. I was all by myself, out in the woods. You would think this would be a good thing because it’s quiet and meditative and all, but I have a problem with a wild imagination, and my imagination was stuck on snakes. Rattlesnakes, to be specific. I kept imagining that there was a snake down at my feet in the undergrowth and that when I reached my hand down to pick a blackberry—ka-zing!—it would bite me. It was a little unnerving, to say the least. At one point I was sure I heard the warning rattle. I knew it was just the brambly bushes rubbing against my bucket, but I was certain it was a rattlesnake. So I quickly left that spot, all the while laughing at myself for being so foolish at the same time I was congratulating myself for such quick thinking.
It’s a confusing job, being me.
Seven pints of blackberries, nuggets of gold.
Part Two: The Applesauce
Back at the ranch, Mr. Handsome was in the middle of making applesauce with all four little ones underfoot. Mr. Handsome has an interesting (isn't that a nice way of putting it?) trait of always trying to reinvent the wheel. This time around he got it in his noggin (kind of like I had snakes in my noggin) that it would be faster to cut the ends out of the apples before cutting them in half, and then, instead of cutting them, to smash them.
I took a gander at his process and went inside to cut up apples the real way. After scorching his 16 quart pot of sauce (not necessarily because they were mushed apples, but we don’t know that for sure), and after a temper tantrum (we won’t go into detail here), he slunk in and silently joined me in cutting up the apples in the good old-fashioned way.
The following photograph is deceiving. It looks like we are all working calmly and quietly together, right?
Actually, everyone is talking loudly, apples and seeds are flying, arguments are breaking out, orders are being shouted. Now you have the real picture.
Mr. Handsome made a big show of checking the temperature of the water and the temperature of the sauce before putting the jars in the canner. I scoffed at him, told him I just did it by feel, so the second time around, he didn’t use a thermometer and the bottom of one of the jars broke off, releasing a quart of applesauce into the boiling water. Apparently, he didn’t test the temperature of the water with his finger, either.
About 25 quarts of applesauce.
Intermission Number One:
For lunch, while I was making egg-bacon-and-cheese sandwiches on toast, I carelessly sloshed a bunch of uncooked, scrambled egg and it immediately disappeared down the crack between the stove and counter. At the end of the day, Mr. Handsome had to pull the whole stove out and then he cleaned up my mess, like the dearie he is.
Oh yes, I also made another cobbler, using blackberries and peaches. It’s a really good recipe, my friends—you gotta try it.
Part Three: The Swiss Chard
Miss Becca Boo helped me pull some of the Rainbow Swiss Chard.
I washed it in the big metal tub out on the porch, cut the long stems off, dried the leaves on towels, cut out the tough center stems, rolled the leaves up and cut them in thin strips and then cross-wise, and packed the chopped chard in freezer boxes. Come winter, we won’t die of scurvy now.
Nine quarts and four pints of Swiss chard.
Intermission Number Two:
In our family it is mandatory that you make a gingerbread when you make applesauce. Quoting from Applesauce, the children’s book my mother wrote:
There was gingerbread to stir up, too. The mother always made it on applesauce days. Supper would be just a whole big gingerbread, and milk, and all the sweet, wonderful applesauce everyone could hold.
So see, I had to make it. So I did. And that was supper (though later, when it was getting close to bedtime, the kids did have tomato sandwiches).
(Yep, the same Grace of the Vanilla Pudding recipe)
½ cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup baking molasses
3/4 cup hot water
2 1/4 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat well. Add the molasses and hot water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until they are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into a greased 9x9 pan (it will be quite full), and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Serve warm with fresh applesauce.
Part Four: The Bread and Butter Pickles
At five o’clock I was about ready to call it quits, but unfortunately, I had mentioned the cucumbers to you all and so I felt obligated to do something with them. I mean, you all were watching and waiting, wondering if it could get it all done, right? It felt like a sort of test. Was I strong enough? Could I handle the pressure?
So, I whipped up a batch of bread and butters. Considering all I had already accomplished that day, it didn’t feel like any big deal.
Mr. Handsome and I got the kids tucked in bed, and then, while the pickles were in the canner, we finished watching the DVD we had started watching the night before, Amadeus. All I have to say about that, besides the fact that it is a very good movie, is that I’m very glad I’m not gifted. Three cheers for mediocrity! (Mr. Handsome and I keep trying to imitate Wolfie’s high-pitched giggle—it’s harder to do than you would think.)
Nine pints of bread and butters.
In conclusion, it appears that my bossy head won out over my lazy butt, at least this time.