Category Archives: Retirement

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Home Made Turkey Soup Base

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We had the absolutely best turkey dinner ever at my son’s home. He used a recipe that among other things called for a bed of vegetables and oranges. My son and DIL work full-time and so don’t have extra time for things like soup from scratch. When she offered me the turkey carcass, I jumped at the chance. I added everything the turkey had cooked with but the oranges to my big stock pot. I also added enough water to halfway cover the carcass.

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As you can see the turkey came with carrots and celery and seasoning already part of it. I also made sure to scrap the pan of the brown stuff on the edges and bottom of the pan. That brown stuff makes the broth really tasty. I also scrapped up all the fat and seasoning stuff as well.

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After a slow simmering for about two hours, the turkey falls apart easily and the broth has taken on the creamy colour you can see here. (Steam on the camera made the picture steamy but you should be able to see the difference.)

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The next step is the most tedious and took about twenty minutes. Separating the mixture from the pot into bones to be discarded on one plate and meat and veggies to go back into the pot on the other. One needs to work fast to avoid giving the stuff time to cool. Cooling food left standing around is bad. It can grow nasty bacteria if you aren’t careful. Also if you are canning you have to be extra careful about washing your hands and using clean utensils. I emptied the plate back into the simmering stock pot several times to keep the separated stuff hot.

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I had no need for turkey soup right away. I wanted to have it handy “put by” in case one of us is not feeling well. There really is nothing as tasty as homemade soup if you’re feeling ill but if you’re not feeling well, then who has the energy to cook soup from scratch? I ladled the soup into well cleaned and rinsed jars that had been sterilized with an extra boiling water rinse.

Even though the stuff is still really hot, you can see how the fat is separating and collecting on top. If you dislike the fat you can skim it off at this point. Personally I think the fat gives the soup more taste and fat has been given a bad name it doesn’t deserve so I left it on. I also added a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of lemon. The lemon makes the soup slightly acidic which discourages nasty bacterial growth. Salt is also a preservative and brings out the flavour. I know salt is bad for us, but one teaspoon in a whole jar is not that bad.

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I then capped the jars and put them in the pressure cooker for one hour.  It is not safe to put anything into jars with meat or any low acid food, without using a presser cooker. Boiling water simply doesn’t get hot enough. You need the extra pressure of a pressure cooker to get the internal temperature high enough to kill nasty bacteria. That has to be done according to your pressure cooker’s manufacturer’s directions. The amount of time required varies depending on the kind of pressure cooker you have, the size of your jars, what your home’s altitude is, and the size of the individual pieces in the broth.  If I had added say, a whole potato or dropped in big meatballs I would have left it in my pressure cooker for an hour and a half. After the jars came out of the pressure cooker I left them to cool. The seals popped tight almost immediately. They continued to bubble for a long time afterward as they cooled because of how high the internal temperature got. I left them undisturbed until morning.

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Now the jars have cooled. The seals are on properly and the fat has settled on top again. The jars can be left for up to a year so they need to be dated so you don’t forget to use them up before they age too much. Now whenever I want to make turkey soup, I can open a jar and reheat it in a pot or the microwave. I do it in the pot and I add vegetables (which this batch won’t need) and some rice or noodles or maybe some potatoes and cook them in the broth at a slow simmer before serving. This is also great with a loaf of homemade bread. The one litre jar is just right for the two of us.

If you don’t like canning you can freeze the soup. I have found freezing changes the flavour and not in a positive way. Jars of home made soup taste nothing like a tin from the grocery store. One of the nice things I have found is home made, home canned goods taste just as good as home made just made. And you can’t beat the cost of doing it yourself.

Ouch

Ouch!

Ouch

Nothing like talking a long walk off a short pier. Hubby dearest went out to view the stars off the dock unaware the dock was closed for repairs. The dock owners assumed everyone had been informed and since they were planning on being back to finish the repairs very early in the morning, they didn’t physically block the dock off. Also because of the repairs the lights were not working. Dick walked along looking up at the stars, and abruptly dropped about eight feet into a foot and a half of cold water over an oyster bed. Amazingly enough, he was basically unhurt except for a lot of superficial cuts and bruises.He couldn’t find his glasses in the dark and he was bleeding from his head and hands. He had about 50 small superficial head cuts. Head cuts really bleed and so by the time he got back to shore, one side of his head was covered with blood and it was running down his jacket front. He was also shaking from cold and shock. Jack was just getting ready to go to bed and so the sight of Dick walking in the door nearly gave him a heart attack. Jack called me to come.

After a warm bath and check, we decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital. By some miracle all the cuts were superficial. I cleaned one cut below his lip and found a tiny bit of oyster shell and a splinter of wood that had to be removed. The rest of the cuts were not dirty. We go to wild places a lot. Our doctor sends us to these wild places with a prescription for antibiotics which we fill before leaving and strict instructions for when to use them. We decided, given how oyster shells are notorious for causing infections, that this was one of those times. I used steri-strips to close a nasty wound that might have needed stitches on one finger. I also used steri-strips to tightly close the wound below his lip where it gaped but I left a small portion open to drain in the region where I had picked out the foreign bodies. I figured that area would need to drain and it did for a full 48 hours.

Two days later, Hubby Dearest is up and about and doing fine. He has a very nasty bruise under his armpit extending well down his arm. His knee got good banging and swelled up horribly but that knee is troublesome and arthritic anyway so we gave it the ice/anti-inflammatory treatment. The bump on his head is going down. The swelling on his lip is going away. All the assorted bumps bruises and cuts are healing very nicely with no sign of infection.

We got lucky, very lucky. The tide was not quite all the way out and the foot and a half of water probably cushioned his fall. Catching his arm on the exposed centre beam probably broke the fall into two stages, reducing the impact even if it bruised him. I keep thinking of might-have-beens. He had been out at a meeting and just returned. Our host thought he had gone back to our trailer and I thought he was still out. I probably would have gone to bed in another hour or so and not noticed he was gone until I woke up hours later. No one knew he was out on the dock, so if he had been knocked unconscious he would have drowned or died of hypothermia before we noticed. He could have broken bones or gotten cut up enough to need a surgical repair. Sharks and alligators are a rare but certainly not unheard of sight around the dock. The only permanent damage that occurred is that we discovered his almost new jeans have a great big rip in them. That’s a pretty cheap price to pay all things considered.

The people who were working on the dock were absolutely horrified. They apologized multiple times. One young man came over and got into the cold water (now higher because the tide was coming in) in the dark with a flashlight and he retrieved Dick’s glasses for him, apologizing all the time. Amazingly enough, the glasses weren’t even scratched.

All is well that ends well. I suspect the folks involved in the dock repair will never again make the mistake of assuming everyone knows and not blocking access. We certainly saw lots of caution tape and wooden barriers all over as they continue their work. The other thing we discovered is I should probably have a tetanus booster when we get back. Mine is overdue. It pays to keep that up. You never know when a oyster bed might be your landing place.

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Peaceful Days

We have settled into our Florida home. Life has been gentle and sweet. Long days of lazy beach walking, and collecting natures treasures. We were walking the beach and found endless sea pansy soft coral so we carried handfuls back to the marine lab where they will be put to good use instead of dying. Another day we watched our favourite dolphin pod driving mullet into the shore in high surf and we were overjoyed to see they have a new baby. I shouted my congratulations and was treated to a waving tail display and a happy jump and a rolling wave of one flipper in the air. Dolphins call dogs. Jack’s Lily swims out and then swims with them when they call. The dolphins like Lily, especially the younger ones and they greet her and try to get her to play but she isn’t a very good swimmer. When they get bored with her simply one dimensional stroke they swim off and she returns to shore, exhausted but full of doggy joy.

On the walk pictured below, in a heavy fog, we disturbed a large osprey who had just caught a fish. The bird flew off with the squirming fish tight in its grip. Yet another day we found a pile of slag from the clearing of a canal and it was packed full of fossils. We carried home chunks of ancient sea bed turned to rock with shells and worm tracks that day. We saw my favourite bird of all birds, the impossible, ridiculous, roseate spoonbill which is much more respectable looking in its native habitat doing its natural thing than when seen in any zoo. The winter birds who headed south before us, but whom we left in Georgia, have finally arrived and the trees are full of cardinals, robins, oriels,  blue jays, hundreds of starlings in stunning murmurations, golden and brown finches and yellow warblers and all those nondescript little brown ones I can never distinguish. They are far quieter and far more social in winter than when they are combating for mates and nesting places back in Alonsa so one can see entire folks living in peaceful close proximity.

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The dogs love the beach. Each morning a large group of dog owners meets early and walks the beach with dogs off leash. The dogs run and play and do the dog thing with abandon while we walk and chat about grandchildren, vehicles, our aches and pains, and where good sales are. The dogs roll in the stinky gunk, swim in the water and dig, endlessly dig in the sand. We moan about how they will need a bath again but none of us makes a move to interfere with their dog play. Some dogs try fishing. The fish are too smart. The crabs fight back and win. Yelp and a quick walk back and the dropped crab moves off. Some dogs, like my Trusty, prefer to just lie there and enjoy the sun and the heat in quiet dignity. Trusty watches the others with disdain and she never needs a bath. The only time I have ever seen Trusty get excited and take to the surf was when the dolphins called her, presumably to show off their new baby. She’s not as good at swimming as Lily and she gave up when the waves hit her chest. She ran up and down the beach crying, unable to fully answer their song. I wish I could hear it.

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Most people like the beach when its sunny and hot. I prefer to go to the beach when it’s cloudy and cool and a stiff breeze makes for rolling surf. On such days it’s often just us with our dogs and we can walk for kilometres without meeting another human being. These are also the days one is most likely to see the dolphins.

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There is something healing about the beach. The voice of Ulmo (if you are a Tolkien’s Silmarillion fan you will recognize that) is soothing.

As a child I had favourite song. I learned it in school. Our school day began with the Lord’s Prayer and two hymns from an English child’s hymnal.

I often hum it quietly to myself as I walk the beach listening to the waves.

“This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.”

“This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.”

“This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, The Holy One,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.”

“This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth we trod.
No place but is holy ground.”

“This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.”

There should be something about dolphins in there. Perhaps I will have to add a verse.

How does your garden grow?

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My 50th parallel garden is growing by leaps and bounds in the usual 16 hours a day of sunlight in summer up here. I planted this from seed except where I specify otherwise. We are already enjoying the garden bounty. As I thin we munch what I thin in our salads. We shall shortly be eating our first meal with turnip greens. Turnip greens are a luxury I was introduced to in the south. We are also enjoying fresh herbs in cooking. The cat also loves fresh catnip. The catnip is growing so fast any cat in town who wishes to get stoned can join mine. (Catnip and herbs above.)

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The tomato plants were purchased ones. This is actually my second set. The May long weekend blizzard killed my first set. They have gone from just starting to bloom to having fruit.

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The cucumbers started from seed three weeks ago are doing very well. I am looking forward to fresh cucumbers and pickles and relishes.

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I put in two roots of horse radish. They have both come up now. I’m not sure if there will be enough root for my to use int he fall but I have located an abandoned garden with horse radish growing wild and crazy everywhere and I will take some from there if I need to.

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Potato plants took forever to appear from seed potatoes but are finally growing. We LOVE fresh potatoes from the garden, especially those little wee ones.

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The beans are just about to bloom. You can also see radishes and lettuce into the next row.

SAM_5619 Spinach. Love it raw. Hubby loves it raw and cooked.

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Baby carrots. Nothing beats a fresh carrot from the garden washed off under the hose in summer sun.

SAM_5623Garlic from seed garlic each plant one clove from the bunch of seed garlic. We are big garlic eaters and I want fresh garlic for my pickles..

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This is an experiment. It is plants for spaghetti squash started from seed. Will it beat the frost and produce something edible? We will see.

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Zuchinni started from plants about six weeks old. We have fried zucchini almost every morning with our eggs so I am looking forward to being able to pick and cook my own. My only regret is I could not  find plants with yellow zucchini, common in the south, here in the north. Yellow zucchini has a nuttier milder taste. Maybe next year I can start my own from seed.

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Chives from purchased plants.

SAM_5627 This was a volunteer I guessed was a squash. It is beginning to look suspiciously like a sunflower.SAM_5621

I put in one row of corn. It’s kind of silly to put corn in a small garden because they need so much room and give back so little but if we are lucky we can have one or two meals of our own fresh corn. You can see baby beets and turnips beside the corn. Most we will eat as greens as I thin. I few I will find other uses for.

The Garden is Up!

This morning I went out to inspect the garden and cheek to see if I will need to replant anything. I was delighted to discover that there is stuff coming up in every row but one. SAM_5590

Here is my row of kale surrounded by weeds. (I will get to that shortly.) I don’t like kale but my kids asked me to plant kale so I did. At the end of the row on the left you can see my two zuchinni plants have taken very nicely.

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A pleasant surprise is all my seed garlic has sprouted. I’ve never had a lot of luck with garlic. Maybe this is the year.

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Beans are one my favourite seedlings. One day you have nothing at all and a few days later you have a row of little plants that actually look like something. Plus they produce enough you can actually get sick of eating them fresh from the garden.

The tomatoes plants I replanted have all taken and are growing like crazy. One of my horse radish roots and one potato have leaves above ground. I expect the rest shortly. Some of the rows look thin and I only have two sets of cucumber plants. If those don’t fill in soon I’ll replant with more but it’s too soon to give up. For fun, I put in sunflowers at the end of each row. I have never actually gotten any sunflowers to eat from the plants but they are so pretty and the birds love them. I plant them for the joy they give me. One thing I have not seen yet is anything from my row of corn. But I only planted the corn because hubby dearest asked me and you can’t get a lot of corn out of a little wee garden. If we get one meal I’ll be surprised, assuming of course the birds didn’t eat all the seed.

The northern garden is a strange thing. We have these incredibly long days in summer with the sun up by 4:30am and sunset not coming until after 10:00pm. Heat during the day and cool at night and usually lots of rain. The result is the garden leaps up so quickly you could almost measure the hourly progress with a ruler. So now the race is on to get the produce grown and in before the frosts of late August. This summer I can’t afford it, with all the expenses of the house, but next spring I hope to have the row garden converted to at least a few above ground box garden containers and have a green house. We’ll see. We gardeners always like to dream big for next year.

New Kitchen Light

SAM_5580 This is the old ceiling light. As you can see it not only is ugly but it doesn’t give enough light. SAM_5579 I changed the light with Dick’s help and then he carefully and meticulously cleaned each of the thick glass panels.The long narrow clear glass above the blue is cut like a prism. SAM_5581 Our new light with two new bright LED lights that give off 400lm each and use only 7 watts. Cost $40 from the Renuzit Habitat for Humanity Store (plus $5 for each bulb) and two hours of our time. Lovely! Next job the ceiling fan for the living room area.