Popcorn Picking

I picked the popcorn today. Last time I planted popcorn, two years ago, I picked it on the 22nd of September, but this was ready to go. It was nicely dried and the stalks were starting to fall over. I planted the same variety as last time–Tom Thumb, a miniature variety with four foot tall stalks–but the weather was just not the same this year.  With the help of my daughter I picked 69 small ears.

Popcorn off the Stalk

Both my kids helped me shuck it. My daughter noted several times that the ear she just revealed would the be the perfect size for a doll, although it would have been less tasty than the corn we purchased from the Conant farm (whose last day was today, and we missed it). After peeling back the husks, we ended up with a pile of golden ears.

Each Ear Equals One Batch of Popcorn

Last time I bagged the ears in a mesh bag and left it to dry for a bunch of weeks. The children were so excited to start collecting it in a bowl, however, that I totally forgot in my own excitement. So we took it off the ears and we marveled at the bowl of kernals. It will need to dry more, indeed, but in a mesh bag that is hanging in the right spot, that should happen easily.

This Will Warm Us on a Winter Day

It was easy to grow. The hardest part was keeping the birds away long enough for it to sprout. They love to yank it out just as it pushes green from the soil. The first time I grew it I had to totally replant it. The second time I tried to grow it I did not have enough time to try again. This time I hung reflectors just as the first shots appeared. That scared the crows and turkeys away and I had plants. After that it was just water, weed and wait. I planted melons in between the plants and that worked out well for both plants.

In a few weeks I will test the popcorn to see if it pops well. Once it is I will jar it up to keep the moisture content right and we will have healthy snacks for the winter. And plenty of it.

Day of Food

I spent a good deal of time on food today. It was well worth it, but I am ready for one last trip to the kitchen, to scoop a bowl of coconut chocolate chip ice cream I made a couple days ago, then a sit with a book. I baked bread in my running clothes, after I lit a fire in the stove. I ran 7 1/2 miles this morning in the twenty degree grayness. It was a heck of a beautiful morning and I do that again. We had friends planning to come over and I was on kid duty (four of them) while my wife and company ran. I had to get started.

I was dressed in proper duds by the time our guests arrived, and I also had cut carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, peppers, and onions. Soup was on. Since I was at it I decided to make some soup stock. The soup and bread were for lunch, along with the apple crisp I whipped up. I froze the stock, along with the remainder of the last batch of stock I made. I also spent time outside in the garden, digging and pulling the weeds that snuck in at the end. I turned compost and worked on making more with leaves and weed bits. I added compost from our kitchen scrap pile to some of the garden beds. And I covered several beds with silver maple leaves that were starting to decompose. It was a productive day.

I wish I could spend this much time on feeding our family more often. I would love to have fresh healthy food every day. We do almost every day, but we do sneak in processed food now and again, in the form of crackers and granola bars and such. Frozen meals almost never make their way to our house, and those boxed ready to prepare meals I feel like I hardly know. I was asked to do a survey recently of instant type meals. There were probably a dozen of them they asked about. I didn’t recognize any of them. I stay away from those center grocery store aisles.

I also baked up a pumpkin and a squash at the tail end of it all. I pureed them in the food processor and popped that in the freezer. The squash was a mystery plant that grew in the compost pile. We had sweet dumpling squash plant last year and this one was sort of like it. But it was orange and green. It think it may have been a cross between a pie pumpkin and the sweet dumpling. Inside it was bright yellow. It tasted sweet but different. I saved the seeds and will plant them in the spring. If it grows again as it did this year, we may have a new variety. I named it after my son.

That son of mine is asleep, along with his sister. He got tuckered out helping me spread dirt and leaves this afternoon. Now is the time to have that ice cream. I am a little tuckered myself.

What’s for Dinner

Last night I had the time to make a good dinner.  I whipped up cream of celery soup and fresh dinner rolls.  With fresh pears on the side.  It was wholesome and tasty.  The kids hated the soup, of course.  “This looks like throwup,” says the boy of joy.  He was serious.

OK, it did look a little like throwup, but only some kinds of throwup, not the gross kind.  Well, not the grossest kind.  But it did taste good–salty and fresh and creamy.  I guess you can’t have everything in a soup.  Especially one that your kids think looks like something your body already rejected.

At least the rolls were good.  They ate plenty of those.  So tonight I wondered what to make.  I had a lot less time.  The rest of the fam was off to the library where my daughter met a friend from school for some friend time.  It was me deciding and me making and I had had a long day.  I didn’t feel like making anything complicated at that point.  I just wanted to eat it.

But of course I wanted my family to have a quality dinner.  I had to make something fast that had no resemblance to bodily fluids.  So I made spaghetti.  We don’t have that all that often.  It is easy and we all like it but I tend to make things that are fresher if I can, or that are just more fun to make.  Spaghetti is just too easy.

My savior was the table.  Instead of the easy pour it into bowls at the stove approach, I set places and we had some spot lighting and we sat together and talked about our day.  I love that.  I remember eating spahetti as a child but more than that I remember eating together as a family.  I want my kids to remember that.

The bummer is that I had really been looking forward to making the soup yesterday.  I had never made cream of celery soup before.  Mostly because, well, it’s celery for god’s sake.  But I had all this celery since you can’t buy just what you need and I needed to make something with it.  I’m thinking next time I toss in a few carrots.  It will give it a little sweetness but, more importantly, some color.

But then again, do I want to hear my boy of joy say “This looks like…?”