The preparation is almost done. We NEVER know just how much, if any, tuna will be available for canning since we don't buy it at the coast off the boats........ We have been SO lucky for the last couple of years that neighbor, friend Aaron, because of all the money his plumbing supply house makes off his work, takes he and his brothers out tuna fishing ev August.....and I mean OUT....about 40 miles out in the ocean. How do these prize so fresh TUNA end up in our iceboxes? Aaron doesn't want them to keep....two of his brothers smoke theirs, and do a little canning. Last year we were given about 48 lbs of fileted, cleaned tuna the Saturday night Aaron returned from his trip. This year? The charter service no longer cleans the fish off the back of the boat, so they had to remain overnight in Seaside for cleaning this morning. Aaron's brother will bring them all back sometime mid-afternoon.... The 'word' is that THIS year, we're going to get 21 tuna that averaged over 20 lbs each..... Cut that in half by the time they're cleaned... WHAT? We will likely have to do some real work soon.....100 lbs of tuna? Lucky for us, friend Marie shares her restaurant kitchen with us for the canning and we SPLIT the result. Aaron will want about 12 jars. So, it looks like we will get for ourselves about 40 1/2 pint jars, if my estimates are anywhere close to what happens. So. We await the arrival of the tuna, and getting it into Marie's cooler for the night. We will meet her there about 10:00 tomorrow morning and with 3 pressure cookers, begin packing jars, cleaning them, cooking them, cooling, and repeat, repeat. TOMORROW.....is going to be a FUN work day.......MORE on this later. Whew. 21 TUNA. Are you kidding?
so. Once again, the 4 cousins gather together in August to not only remember the elder matriarchal women who worked 22 hours a day in summers gardening, harvesting, preserving, canning, storing food for their families, but to also, "once again" HAVE the treasure OF those memories sealed up in jars and here for our own enjoyment. It seems a while back now that the last of those "Grandma Ray Pickles" were being used up, all her own children already passed away except the youngest, Aunt Merle who still MADE them from her own garden way over in John Day, Oregon. We called her, she happily agreed to teach us just how to do this, so off we went for a weekend as pickle students....I'll never forget that. The pickling of our own began that year with us, cousin Nancy M, and Merle's own daughter Nancy P coming from Seattle.... and we've been pickling one weekend every August since. In that time, we lost dear cousin Nancy P. to the dreaded Mursa virus, so her own son, J & partner Bhakti replaced Nancy.....and we continue on. Pickling these days involves a trip to the produce capital of the Portland metro area which lies just below our hilltop house on a massive island marking the confluence of the great Columbia & Willamette Rivers. It's composed of 20 million years of river downflow containing volcanic, ash, and other rich sediments. The farm property there is invaluable..... There are produce farms where you can pick your own, organic choices, etc. OUR choice has long been one called The Pumpkin Patch.... http://www.thepumpkinpatch.com/ . . . a family owned place where no spraying is allowed. So Friday morning is a drive to Pumpkin Patch to buy: 5 large 25# bags of smaller pickling cucumbers, dozens of dill weed branches, lots-o-garlic, serrano & Habanero peppers and a round of misc veggies that catches our eye. On return home, the work begins immediately for the cucumbers must be cleaned and placed in a water soak for the next 24 hours. So here we go with a table set up from sawhorses & plywood pieces, bowls, and cucumbers ready for work: **yep, note my stand was set up in the shade. and we get ready: Ah! Getting those dang Garlic cloves out of those clumps of husks and dry peels........Rodger discovered the method....placing the clumps between two stainless bowls and shaking 'em up.... it's a much easier task after that.....and here we were after an hour: After about 4 hours, here's our finished product that will sit quietly until the next morning's arrival of our workmate cousins to chop, dice, place and ornament: Ornament? Yes, half the fun is placing the seasonings/grape leaves/dill/peppers into the bottle as well: Soon, that kitchen is simply in motion for a few hours: And here, we await the hot-water bath finish of one group of jars before we can begin the next one. Friend RHONDA joined us because she is going to begin THIS week pickling on her own with hubby Bob. It IS because of Bob & Rhonda that we now have grape leaves growing on our own place, so we never have to buy them: **Bob & Rhonda will also join us for the Dilled Beans project next on the list. Part of the task....keeping lids sterile, and the water bath....never a full boil, rather a hot simmer going on with water level about half-way up the jars.....the purpose of this bath is simply to get the jars to "seal"...... A batch awaits the water bath: Cousin Nancy M bravely continues on despite the arthritis bothering her hand...... The tribe lines up the final production batches for a number count which finished at 95: And a POSE: There WERE a few cucumbers left that night that Mark & Rodger finished the next day.....these were the very last lonely kids left for what ended up being a PINT Jar: The lonely Last pint: Last label: The weekend has taken its toll on Mark & Rodger who added another 24 jars of finished "Grandma Ray's Pickles": Ah....next project mid-week next: Ginger Peach Jam. After That? Dilled Beans.
It's obvious I'm not even recording a 'diary' history for my OWN use anymore. Last entry was May 8. In fact, there's just an outline here of things I might use looking back a year from now........... awful writer I am. May 10 forward....... We departed for Chicago for a 2 1/2 week trip on May 17. It was a fabulous time from beginning to end. Doug & Leon hosted our stay in the beginning at their home in Elgin.......enjoying their historical home's comforts, the local best dining choices, and talking....a lot. Grand time. We prepped with them a tiny bit for some of their friends who always join at their house as it's right in a city Race route....met some of the heartland's finest. A highlight of this visit was visiting the Peggy Braetbart Nature Museum visiting Doug's butterfly Gardens... it was an amazing science experience with the tour of the labs where many of the creatures are raised. Whew. Taking the river tours featuring Chicago outside architecture is a learning experience.....this is one FINELY designed city. We trekked from there northward to River Falls, WI where Bev Hoppe held a grand dinner evening at her home for her kids, cousin Jeff and us....I will never forget that evening. We were treated as if we'd been lifelong best friends........ We also got to see some beautifully constructed artistic wooden pieces built by Bill Hoppe, who Bev lost just a months prior..... What a night we spent! Bev and Beth took us on a hike for birding, seeing grand waterfalls at Kinninnick: , rock climbers, dining at a re=built Post Office, shopping, another grand day.... Then we drove the 40 miles to Minneapolis to stay with Brenda & Thomas a couple of nights and catch up with their lives.....we've missed them since they returned to the heartland from Portland a few months prior. Thomas with the kids Ben & Eva: Neither of us had ever been to WI OR MN . . . . .so everything we saw was fantastic.....those lush rolling hills of hardwood forests are beautiful. We came back to Chicago to stay with my cousin Dennis n Nan who live in a beautiful home SO close to Soldier Field, its what you see out one of their back windows..... From here we toured the city with NAN as our guide for the architectural secrets, a day at the art institute with Tate Hunt as our guide...it was sure great to SEE Tate again....hadn't seen him since the blogger gathering in 2005? Gavin, also a friend made through the blog world joined us from NY......what a great few days we enjoyed in Chicago. **Don't forget to talk about Wrigley Field......in its 100th anniversary year, yes, we took the tour. We arrived back home to some hard work trying to get a garden started at the END of May (the penalty I can report now as I write this in August......little fruit ripe yet, it['s still all big huge plants)...... going to Classic Pianos who had FOUND the very jewel of a piano I'd been wanting for some time....these fabulous brothers gave me all the money I'd paid for the old tinny one back toward this new one that they had found and held for me for a month...... a very nice little Kawaii Upright....almost sounds like the baby grand I mistakenly gave up a few years ago. June involved everything June does in Portland.....getting geared u-p for summer.... It began with making the strawberry freezer jam! Yum. That's followed 2 weeks later when the Cascade Delight Raspberries ripen at West Union Gardens....more jam...... Then we await the July creation of Apricot Jam, then the Triple Crown Blackbery Jam, and right NOW, aug early, I am awaiting making Peach Ginger Jam. JULY - brought a visit from a fabulous Niece, Shauna, hubby Moe & beautiful kids Miriam & Sommer....... we had MORE fun than I could have thought so I am happy they'll be in Utah for a year, maybe we'll get to see them again before they had back to Ontario, Canada where Shauna's a bus prof of history. Midieval History. And, LATE in July, STILL trying to get that veggie garden up to speed and fighting MOLES as I've NEVER had to fight them before (I suppose because we haven't sprayed anything Monsanto out in our yard for a few years....so it's healthy, yes, but it's a losing battle against moles.....in FACT, IF....the FIRST year I'd ever tried to grow a vegetable garden involved what the fight has been this year, I seriously DOUBT if I'd EVER kept gardening..... ). Well, July 18....... while watering that garden with the soaker hose, a mole tunnel collapses the corn plants I'm standing next to, and I dive to the ground hoping to plug it without losing 5' tall plants.....my pinkie finger hits something hard, and I end up with a condition called: MALLET FINGER WHICH.......will hamper what I do for 8 weeks. I went to E/R next day, and to the doctor Monday, and now have a small plastic cast to hold the finger straight (all the tendons were torn loose)..... can't get it wet, can;t do much.... big oops. I have this cast replaced/updated for the first time tomorrow morning. That oops explains my poor typing, and.....during the family pickling weekend THIS coming saturday-sunday.....I hope I'll get my share of work in. I'm prepping the kitchen and supplies now.......6 of us will be here to make 140 quarts of grandma Rays Pickles......again...... it's now a family tradition. Well, I've missed a LOT of trivial fun bits of life we enjoyed this summer, it's been a most interesting one, and maybe someday I can get a few pics thrown in here.....but for now, this will have to do. AUGUST......month of more home-made potato salads , watermelon, peach jam, home-=made ice cream, BBQ, fighting moles, watering, enjoying a summer night or two on the town, and on and on and on and on..............love summer.