Monday, November 29, 2010


This past year has been a bumpy ride, full of surprises that have ranged from extremely unpleasant to beyond joyful.  And rather than looking back at the end of the calendar year, I prefer to see the beginning of the holiday season as the end of the year.  I found out this past year that I am so lucky to have loving, kind friends who stuck by me when I was at a very low point.  I learned that I'm capable of amazing things.  I may trust too much and want to believe in people despite evidence to the contrary, but plenty of people give me reason to keep believing.

 I spent Thanksgiving at Matt's and Dana's, with Dana's parents, Lisa and her family and the three cats.  We had enforced Origami, tons of good food and beverages and a lot of fun.

 I'm so grateful to have my small army of strong friends who love me and care for me, and whom I love and care for.  Anything is possible, because I have them with me!  Thanks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's the Peanuttiest!

And so the next adventure begins:  6,900 jars of peanut butter!  The 7,020 pounds of peanuts came in Tuesday, on four pallets, all that was in an 18-wheeler that backed up to our loading dock.  We--five of us--took them off the truck and stacked them at the back dock, then three of us moved them all inside.  Tuesday was the blustery, rainy day this week, if you'll remember, but the storm was polite enough to have a dry break right at the time of peanut delivery.
There are now peanut boxes everywhere in the larder.  Jars fill up any space peanuts aren't taking up.  Most of the jars are stored off-site, in a saddle making factory down the road.  We have to go get them, one pallet at a time.  A pallet holds about 2400 jars.  Yesterday, we made 1,032 jars of peanut butter, 189 the day before, so we are on schedule, and I'm beginning to relax a little.  My right eye's twitch has slowed down somewhat, anyway.  We stopped the pickled beets & strawberries at 2,938, with a mere 3,962.  I firmly believe we can get the peanut butter done by next Wednesday, and be back at the PB&S by the day after Thanksgiving!  WE CAN DO IT!!!  I think...  I'll let you know!
UPDATE:   1008 at 5 pm when I left today; that makes it 2229!  By now, Melanie will have finished enough to make the first shipment of 2300!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feeling Up-Beet

  Yesterday, my team made 500 jars of pickle beets & strawberries, an absolutely amazing feat.  I'm so proud of everyone for working so diligently at something so monotonous and seemingly endless.  We are up to 2,575 jars, past the first goal of 2,300.  I'd post photos, but you've already seen it:  table tops and ovens full of ruby red jars.  What you haven't seen is our fuschia hands and the beet juice splattered floor at the end of the day.
  We're taking a break from beets starting tomorrow.  Melanie and her helper, Karl, are making over 300 pounds of grain and nut this weekend.  Then we all start on the 6,900 jars of peanut butter.  I had to stop halfway through that sentence to wipe my eye; it's been twitching for the past week, every time I think about all that's left to do.  We need to make 1,000 jars of peanut butter a day to finish it all in a week, but I'm hoping we can do it.  We're buying pre-roasted peanuts, which will make it much easier than previous batches, where we roasted our own.  These pre-roasted peanuts come with a lot of certification that they've been tested for every peanut-borne bacteria and virus known to humans, so we can avoid any unpleasantness.
  As soon as this Beet madness is done, I'm taking a week off.  I need to go to Nashville to see Matt and Dana, and I need some time to not have to be doing something.  The date keeps moving around, according to our beet progress, but I'm hoping for mid December.
 I'm knitting a scarf and hat set for someone for Christmas in some yummy rayon chenille I bought on closeout from Webs.  The hat is done, except for finding the tapestry needle to finish it off.  It's been done for over a week now.  I know I'll find that tapestry needle some day before Christmas!
  The other colors from the same closeout are equally delicious.  The rose color will be another hat and scarf set, as will the gray color, but the red is for me me me!  I'm going to make a luscious red chenille cardigan that I can already imagine wrapping up in.  I picked out a pattern in the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting, one with a gigantic shawl collar, but I'll have to tweak it, due to gauge concerns.
  This week, the peonies I ordered a month ago showed up.  I was pretty excited, until I opened the box.

Seriously?  This cost $60?  It smells wonderful, like wet dirt, but I'm guessing that when they said "bare root stock," they meant nothing but the bare roots.  Sigh...  Today, I'll be plowing the north forty and probably getting them in the ground tomorrow.  I wonder how long it takes peonies to become established?  They say they last for decades, but these guys are infants!  I'm guessing I won't have those big, blowsy blossoms this coming summer.  Good thing I intend to live here forever!
  Have a glorious fall Saturday!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beets Me!

Have you ever wondered what 550 pounds of beets looks like?  No?  Why not?  
  Here it is, piled up in the produce sink (yes, I have a sink in my kitchen that is JUST for produce; doesn't everyone?), waiting to be peeled, sliced and made into Pickled Beets & Strawberries.  We need 6900 jars, 16 ounces each.  We started actually pickling them a week ago, but only made enough for the gift shop last week.  This week, we're starting on the 6900 jars.  Day before yesterday, we made 50.  Yesterday, we made 219.  Today, we made 386.  655:  Only 6245 left.  No problem!  

One thing we have discovered is that this is nothing like pickling okra.  Some things are better:  no slime.  Some things are not:  many, many steps to pickled beet bliss.  Here, Dustin is mixing four bags--100 pounds--of sliced beets in the brine.  Remember the consomme that Melanie made for two weeks?  It's in there!  Along with vinegar, spices, water, sugar and salt.  See all those strawberries?  Melanie is cutting them all into chunks tonight while I get ready for bed.

Here are Dustin and Melanie with Shannon, our recruit from the Main House restaurant, hard at work, with the water bath steaming between them and me.  We have two other people from the Barn restaurant helping this coming week, and we are determined to knock this project out in the next 2 1/2 weeks.  I know we can do it!  Wish us luck!

p.s.  I'll say it:  I hate the way Blogger posts photos!  Words get misaligned against the pictures; downloading takes forever and sometimes, they simply disappear, for no obvious reason!  It's frustrating!  If there was a place to complain about it to them, I'd do it!  I just can't figure out how!