That’s a word I’ve been using a lot lately, but yesterday it had a much more positive spin. My worms survive the fire. Not all of them, and their bin will need to be replaced because of the smoke, but when I dragged the box into the garage yesterday and opened it up, there were wigglers still wigglin’.
Considering that the wallpaper all along the wall above them is blistered and peeled, and the ceiling and attic insulation now reside on the kitchen floor, I’d assumed the worst. But something about their corner under the table (and probably the cool moisture of the peat) kept them safe.
There is a lot that looks like it might be salvageable, but we will know more today. I worked with flashlights, pulling stuff out of the kitchen, and Johanna worked in the garage, sorting what came out into boxes for cleaning and inspection. Glass items weren’t broken and metal wasn’t melted, but I have a feeling some of what’s physically intact will be smoke-damaged beyond saving anyhow.
I’ve gotten a number of calls with offers of help since I sent an e-mail Friday afternoon with post-fire needs. I sent it pretty late in the afternoon, and it is Cornfest weekend, so I wasn’t expecting much, but today should be a good crew day nonetheless.
Beyond helping salvage and sort my personal belongings, another thing I asked for in terms of recovery is for food producers and preservers to “can a pint (or quart) for Rebecca.” While my equipment is lost, I’ve been fortunate to stay with people who have equivalents, but what I don’t have is the quantity of time it takes to put up the harvest of my bountiful gardens like I usually do.
I’ve been able to tackle a few projects here and there, but the larder isn’t looking like it’ll be nearly as full with good, real food this winter as it usually is. Add to that, of course, that I don’t actually have a larder at present (though again, friends have been very accommodating!).
So, I put out the call to anyone who has these skills and wants to help by put something by for me. And I’m more than happy to supplement produce preservation projects with what comes out of my own gardens. Hopefully, that can be a win-win: reduce waste, I get a little something, and the preserver ends up with a little more than they would’ve. And yes, I’m very open to bartering produce for other foods as well!
All that said, after a couple hours of work at the house yesterday, I did manage one canning project with one of the lugs of peaches I’d reserved at Bonnie’s Hometown Grocery in Clinton before I left for vacation (and all heck broke loose).
Starting at about 4pm yesterday and working ’til a little past midnight, I managed to put up 21 pints of spicy peach salsa.
Basically, it was a lug of peaches, skinned and chopped; plus a baker’s dozen green bell peppers (9 of them roasted in the toaster oven); about 15-20 jalapeno peppers (also roasted), 9 onions, 4 cups white vinegar, 2 cups dark brown sugar, 2-3 tablespoons salt, 3 teaspoons oregano, and 4 teaspoons cumin seed.
What really makes it is the smoky flavor of the roasted peppers–this wouldn’t be nearly as good without having taken that extra step. I didn’t seed the hot peppers, which gives it a reasonable-but-not-overwhelming kick. It was hot packed in pints with 1/2 inch headspace and water bath processed for 15 minutes a batch.
It gives me a sense of security to have those cases of food piled up in my bedroom–I won’t be able to eat that much salsa, but I will have at least something to bring to an event or give as a gift.
Today, the house project continues, and that’s probably all I’ll do. Yesterday was epic, but tomorrow I can’t sleep in ’til quarter to eight like I did today. The second lug of peaches (which isn’t really ready/ripe yet anyhow) can wait at least ’til the middle of next week before going in halves into quart jars with a bit of brandy.
Oh, and by the way–another survivor of the fire: while the cap was a bit melted and the label burnt and smoked, when I pried off the cap of my brand new bottle of brandy sitting on the kitchen counter, the contents appeared unscathed.