I headed back to the tag sale yesterday to pick up a couple of things my DH decided we needed and returned home with 20 wooden baskets for storing potatoes ad apples, a pan for watering our bees and a dandy little cabinet that is just right for storing my jars of pickles and jams. It needs a good sanding and a coat of rustoleum to be as as good as new. I paid $4.oo for that. The seller also threw in the wringer for a washing machine. As I have a wash tub and plan to order a washing plunger I found in Emergency Essentials, I will have everything I need to do my wash without electricity. Don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of switching to non-electric washing unless circumstances force me to but I do like to be prepared.

I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen. I got a load of beets pickled and, as I had a lot of leftover sweet brine and space in the canner I did a a few jars of pickled red cabbage. I have no idea whether this will be tasty or not but I thought it was worth the effort. I also did a 1/2 gallon of pickled cauliflower with red cabbage and started a batch of ginger ale. The first of the summer squash was ready. Heather and Tom were coming over for dinner so I made a very good squash casserole. The recipe is simple. I cut up three good sized squash and mixed them with some canned, diced tomatoes, bit of garlic  and basil and topped with a mixture of bread crumbs, Italian seasonings, butter and Parmesan cheese, then baked it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. The squash still had some tooth to it which is how we like it.

Bruce checked the hives and we are full of honey. This will be our first big harvest. I am delighted as I know  how much effort Bruce has put into these bees. Let no one tell you that the bees do all the work. We started with our first 2 hives last year. DH has taken 10 bee classes, attends a bee club each month, and gone to a bee conference. He has spent hundreds of dollars on bee equipment, built a solar powered bee enclosure and endured dozens of stings working with the bees. They are checked every week which involves suiting up and smoking them to get a good look. He has also captured 8 swarms and built new frames and boxes for each one. Bees are livestock. They may be little but they require as much time and attention as any animal but pay you back good care with a valuable product.

I am getting ready for teaching a workshop on preserving food. It is sponsored by NOFA, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association. If you live in Western Mass, check out the NOFA website and come join us. Other food preservation workshops will be taking place around the state. I see a real interest emerging in this subject. I think people are sick of  worrying about what’s in the food they are eating and are really beginning to think about food security. I hope folks realize that they don’t need to have the land to raise food to benefit from preserving it. U-Pick places, farmer’s markets and local farms are all sources of terrific organic produce that you can buy in bulk and preserve at home. Our berry bushes are not producing many blueberries yet but I pick about 20 pounds a summer and put them up in jam, sauce and frozen for muffins.

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